The Top 6 Causes of Electrical Fires in Homes
Everyone knows that electricity is dangerous and it can cause fires in homes. But, did you every stop to think about how electricity causes a fire? You might be VERY surprised to discover things you thought were perfectly safe to do are actually very dangerous. There’s a 99% chance you’ve done #4!
1. Old or Faulty Outlets and Switches
Outlets and switches wear out over time. In fact, with daily use, most only last about 15 years. In switches, the switching mechanism wears out and won’t stay on or off. In outlets, the pressure plates inside the outlet won’t hold plugs firmly in the wall. Over time, the wiring in both switches and outlets can loosen. Any of these three conditions can cause electrical arcing. Arching is when electricity is trying to jump from one connection to another creating a spark. This is a potential fire hazard.
2. Old Appliances
While older appliances may seem to be running fine, you need to be aware that the wiring inside the appliance has aged and could present an arcing fire hazard inside the appliance.
3. Altered 3 Prong Plugs
Removing the grounding prong from the three-prong cord can also cause a fire. The third prong is the grounding wire and needs to be intact.
4. The Wrong Light Bulb
Yep! We’ve all done this one! Installing a higher wattage light bulb in a socket meant for a low wattage bulb can cause a fire. Always use the recommended bulb wattage in light fixtures.
5. Overuse of Extension Cords
Extension cords are meant to be a temporary solution to provide power to a location where you don’t have an outlet. Extension cords can heat up and catch on fire.
6. Old Wiring
As a home ages, so does the wiring system. You can experience issues with worn out outlets, switches, GFCI outlets, and even the circuit breaker panel. Wiring systems in homes that are more than 30-years-old weren’t designed to handle the demands of today’s electricity needs. Get the peace of mind of a whole home electrical evaluation from Clover Electric. We’ll be able to tell you if your electrical system is safe and is properly handling your electrical requirements.
Watch for the warning signs of a stressed or worn out electrical system. These include:
- Cover plates that are unusually warm to the touch may indicate a loose connection.
- Crackling, sizzling or buzzing noises behind outlets, switches or walls may indicate there’s an unsafe wiring condition called arcing.
- Tripped circuit breakers are yet another indication of an over stressed electrical system. Circuits typically trip because of electrical overloads. Circuits that trip repeatedly indicate a potential problem that needs attention from a licensed electrician.