According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost 45,000 home fires are caused by electrical failure or malfunctions every year. This results in roughly 440 deaths and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. Even newly-constructed homes are at risk of an electrical fire. Old homes can handle 30 amps of power. But, most new homes require 100 to 200 amps. This demand creates a strain on a wiring and electrical system.
You can prevent electrical fire in your home if you understand the common causes, warning signs and appropriate safety measures. The most common causes for electrical fires are:
Inspect your house’s aluminum wiring especially if your home was built between 1965 and 1973. Wall sockets, switches and cable connections installed during this period are often problematic. Aluminum wiring oxidizes and degrades quicker than copper wiring. If a complete household rewiring doesn’t suit your budget, copper connector “pigtails” can help prevent some of the dangers of aluminum wiring.
Overloaded circuits and extension cords
You can lose electricity or have an electrical fire start when too much energy is being drawn from one electrical outlet. To prevent that, you may consider buying a surge protector to protect expensive equipment from electrical surges, which can cause damage. Heavy current appliances such as stoves, water heaters, electric dryers should be on separate circuit breakers or fuses. They draw a lot of currents.
You should not use extension cords. But if you do, then you should use them for temporary purposes. Do not use them for major household appliances.
Defective or improper plugs, switches, and outlets
If you notice that an outlet or light switch is hot to the touch, call a professional to evaluate. Your outlets should not give off any heat. If it is warm or hot, there is an issue: either the circuit is overloaded, or you may have a loose connection. Heat is escaping and radiating. You should not inspect the outlets yourself, call an electrician to evaluate the situation instead.xz
You should never plug in a cord that is frayed or worn out. A frayed wire can send heat to combustible surfaces around it and cause a fire. Replace cords and appliances if the cords are frayed.
While loose electrical cords can be another kind of safety hazard, keeping them tucked away can lead to electric fire and other issues. Cords located under rugs can be easily damaged from the weight of people. Additionally, people are less likely to notice the damage because they are hidden away. Similarly, fastening cords with staples or nails can cause electrocution or expose live wires.
Investing in a smoke detector is a smart action in ensuring electrical safety. These hardwired devices are compact, easy to install, and can quite literally save lives (and wallets!). Smoke and fire alarms can be found at most electric supply stores.
Another option would be hiring a qualified electrician for assessing your house safety and/or fixing the wiring. No matter how small a problem may be, do not try repairing electric appliances yourself, unless you are a licensed electrician of course.