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The Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

The Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

By Jonny Hawley on Mar 24, 2017 at 06:42 AM in Fire Damage , Damage Restoration

Electrical fires are the leading cause of home fires

Common Causes of Electrical Fire Santa Barbara Goleta

Most electrical fires are preventable, especially if you know how to use your electric outlets, appliances, and outlets. Your habits, usage, and knowledge of electrical rules guide how safe you are from the most common causes of electrical fires. Learn what causes electrical fires and simple preventative measures to keep you safe.

Electrical distribution

Electrical distribution at the first source in a home is the electrical breakers in the electrical box. Breakers are the safeguard designed to turn off the power during overuse or short in the system. According to the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, approximately 50% of electrical fires started by improper electrical distribution or lighting equipment.

Homeowners use power strips, extension cords, and outlet splitters, allowing more plugs in a given outlet. The attempting to place more appliances on a given outlet leads to dangerous overheating, sparking or shorting out. This is a fire hazard. Use only appliances with power requirements that do not exceed the outlet power expectation.

Never plug large appliances, such as washers, dryers, microwaves, refrigerators, space heaters or air conditioners into an extension cord or power strip. Large appliances are only plugged directly into a single outlet. When an appliance is too large for a normal outlet it will have its own breaker, avoiding overload.

Appliance rules

  • Always plug a large appliance directly into an outlet.
  • When an old appliance is not running optimally get it checked out or replace it with a new appliance.
  • Washing machines and other water running appliances only plug into a GFCI outlet, which turns off the breaker when water and electricity come into contact creating an unsafe situation.
  • Keep debris, clothes, and other flammable items away from appliances, especially space heaters.

Common Electrical fire hazards

  • Worn wires on extension cords and appliances. Check wiring frequently.
  • Debris around electrical outlets, lamps or heaters. Keep outlets clear and visible.
  • Misuse of outlets and power strips. Do not overload and run too many items on the same outlet.
  • Old or outdated wiring. Throw away old appliance with outdated wiring, and have an outlet or whole house wiring check as it ages.

Considerations to prevent Electrical fires

  • Instead of adding power strips and extension cords for regular use hire a qualified electrician to add outlets and/or breakers.
  • Nearly half of all electrical fires involve other equipment attached to the electrical system causing overload.
  • Per the NFPA, 74% of structural fires ignited by electricity was due to malfunction of an item plugged to the electrical system of the home.

Electricity Failure Prevention in your home

Proactive measures prevent electrical fires in your home. Faulty electrical equipment creates heat which leads to fire. The number one item every home requires for safety is a smoke detector. Sure, it’s annoying when it goes off while you’re cooking dinner but when it comes down to a real fire it can make the difference between life and death. Besides appliances, there are other parts of your home’s electrical system that you must check on a regular basis.

Light Fixtures which are old and outdated need replacement. Never place light bulbs with too low or high of a wattage for the lighting fixture. Check for worn wiring, corroded sockets or plugs. Always check lighting fixtures clear of debris.

Worn, cracked or loose outlets are defects and require replacement. Always turn the power off to the outlet before replacing to prevent electrocution. When you are unfamiliar or need professional help call a qualified electrician.

Poor DIY electrical wiring by an underqualified person is dangerous and always use a professional electrician certified on electrical codes and regulations.

Holiday lighting is a leading cause of electrical fires during the holiday seasons. Overload of string lights on a single extension cord is the primary reason. Outside lighting with old, worn or improper electrical hook-up combined with wet snow and rain create an electrical power recipe for fire. Always use GFCI outlets for outside electrical outlets to ensure power break in the case of an accidental electricity and power combination.

The most common causes of electrical fires are preventable. Awareness of the causes, rules of electrical safety and some simple repair and replacement of hazardous appliances, outlets, and wiring ensure your home and family safety. When you need a consultation and inspection of your home please contact us for peace of mind.