Electricity is a modern convenience that homeowners can't imagine living without. While you probably don't give a lot of thought to your electrical system, this convenience can become a serious safety hazard.
Electrical fires are responsible for causing an estimated $1.3 billion in damages each year. The best way to avoid becoming the victim of an electrical fire is to learn what causes these types of disasters.
The more you know about the causes of electrical fires, the better prepared you will be to take action and prevent an electrical fire in your own home.
1. Old Appliances
All of the appliances in your home can become safety hazards as they age. Older appliances typically aren't manufactured to meet current electrical safety standards.
An old appliance is also more likely to have a frayed cord or loose wiring, which can contribute to the outbreak of an electrical fire. You should replace any old appliances with newer models to reduce the risk of fire in your home.
You can tell if an old appliance is becoming a hazard by paying close attention to the appliance during operation. If you notice a burning smell or hear strange noises coming from the appliance when it powers on, these are good indications that you need to replace the appliance as soon as possible.
2. Outdated Wiring
Older homes were constructed using wiring systems that no longer comply with modern safety standards. Outdated wiring isn't equipped to support the demand for electricity that exists in a modern home.
The old wiring in your home can become stressed when your electrical demands increase, causing the wiring to overheat.
Outdated wiring is one of the leading causes of electrical fires in residential settings.
An experienced electrician can inspect your home's wiring to determine if it's up to code. All outdated wiring can be replaced to ensure the safety of your home in the future.
3. Faulty Electrical Outlets
The wiring in your home's electrical outlets can become a safety hazard. Faulty electrical outlets can spark, form an electrical arc, or catch on fire. It's important that you take the time to inspect your electrical outlets often.
Look for evidence of soot around the socket or switches. Tighten any loose wires in the electrical outlet to prevent an electrical current from arcing when the outlet is in use.
An electrician can help you spot faulty electrical outlets and replace them to prevent fire from damaging your home.
4. Electrical Circuit Overloads
Residential electrical systems are divided into circuits. Each circuit is rated to support a specific amount of electricity. Exceeding this specified amount can cause an electrical fire.
You need to become familiar with the circuit ratings in your home. Avoid plugging too many devices into any one circuit so that you don't overload the circuit.
If you find that you just don't have enough circuits to support your home's electrical needs, hire an electrician to help.
An electrician can install additional circuits that will increase the amount of electricity your home can handle. These added circuits allow you to safely increase your electrical usage without the risk of starting an electrical fire.
5. Improper Light Bulbs
When the bulb in one of your light fixtures burns out, you must install the right kind of replacement bulb if you want to protect your home against an electrical fire.
High-wattage bulbs can produce a lot of heat when they are in use. If the light fixture isn't manufactured to help dissipate this heat, an electrical fire can start.
Make sure you know the proper wattage for each of your light fixtures so that you can avoid any fires caused by improper light bulbs in the future. Contact an electrician who works on residential electrical systems to learn more.