Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

Posted On: October 25, 2017

Faulty electrical wiring accounts for about 25,000 house fires every year nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Add in the fires started by problems with space heaters and other appliances, and there are about 85,000 residential electrical fires annually.

If you’ve heard about house fires in the news or seen a neighbor suffer an unfortunate accident, you may be wondering what to do. Let’s look at the biggest causes of electrical fires and how to prevent them.

Old Appliances

From the humble toaster to major appliances like the dishwasher, almost any device can start a house fire. Old or damaged wiring and heating elements are usually to blame.

If a cord, plug, or appliance gets hot to the touch when you use it, say goodbye and replace it ASAP. Better yet, replace your appliances ahead of schedule to be safe.

Overloaded Circuits, Outlets, and Power Strips

Your outlets and appliances might be in great working order now, but the wiring can only handle so much. Do you have too few electrical outlets or not enough in a room? You add a power strip or two, connect an extension cord with three plugs at the end, and suddenly you’re running a dozen appliances off of one wall outlet.

Circuit breakers trip to prevent damage from situations like this. However, overheating can break down the wiring over time. If you flip the breaker back on but don’t change your habits, the danger increases.

Wiring Problems

People often procrastinate on home rewiring. It’s a large project that involves opening up some walls and ceilings, but it’s not as bad as you think.

Faulty wiring can cause electrical fires for several reasons:

  • Knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring
  • Old wiring (no wiring lasts forever)
  • Overloading due to increased electrical demand at home
  • Chewed wires from squirrels and rodents
  • Bad installation (loose wiring at outlets, ungrounded circuits, etc.)
  • Improper installation (too few circuits, no dedicated circuits for large appliances, etc.)

Light Fixtures and Space Heaters

Portable heaters, lamps, and light fixtures can cause electrical fires even when in perfect condition. A newspaper set on a lampshade, a blanket draped over a ceramic heater, or leaves trapped in an outdoor light fixture can serve as the fuel for a devastating fire. Bare light bulbs often start fires in linen closets that have been stuffed full.

Remember, if an appliance of any kind gets hot while doing its job, don’t leave any object touching it.

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Contact us today to schedule an electrical safety visit in Montgomery County or the greater DMV area.

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