The mere thought of a house fire scares many homeowners. Home electrical fires account for about 51,000 fires each year, causing more than $1,000,000,000 in structural damages and are the third leading cause in home fires. 65% of deaths related to home fires are in homes that do not have working smoke detectors. It is so important to test your smoke detectors monthly to ensure they are working properly. This small step could save your life. It is recommended, especially in older homes, to have a licensed and qualified electrician such as Peterkin Electric inspect your electrical system to make sure it meets all safety standards that are required today. If you live in an older home, speak to your electrician to see if your home would benefit from installing an AFCI. (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) This is a new device that can detect conditions that are not detected by standardized breakers. Once installed, test AFCI’s monthly to ensure they stay in good working order.
Factors Causing Electrical Fires
Following are two of the most common causes of electrical fires.
1: Old, ungrounded electrical outlets. When a power surge happens, grounded outlets can cause a fire. If you have any two prong outlets in your home, it is time for an upgrade. Three prong outlets are grounded with the third lot acting as a ground and will provide electricity with a safe escape in the event of a power surge. Kitchens and bathroom outlets are now required to have a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter which monitors the flow of electricity and will cut off the circuit if it detects any imbalances or surges of electricity. GFCIs also lower the risk of electrocution or fire if water accidentally reaches the outlet. GFCI outlets come equipped with test, and reset buttons, if your system does not have this, then it is of upmost importance to have a licensed electrician upgrade your electrical system.
2: Outdated wiring (20 or more years). Having Peterkin Electric inspect your home will make this process go more smoothly than trying to figure out whether your system is outdated because most wiring is hidden in the walls of our homes and therefore can be difficult to diagnose. Older wiring was not designed to handle the workload of today’s electronics such as widescreen T.V.’s or powerful appliances. If the wiring in your home is faulty it will not trip the breaker when the circuit becomes overloaded, increasing your risk of fire.
3: Permanent Long Term Extension Cord Use. Last, but certainly not least is making extension cords permanent. This is a common fire hazard in homes because having multiple devices plugged into an extension cord for long periods of time will overload the outlet and can lead to risk of fire. Plugging gaming consoles, T.V.’s etc. directly into an outlet is the safest route. A licensed and qualified electrician can install new grounded outlets anywhere you may need some extra plugs, keeping you and your family safe. If using an extension cord is needed for a short period of time, do so by never placing it under carpeting, rugs, or any other flammable surfaces!
Signs of Faulty Electrical Wiring
A few signs of faulty wires can be:
-Power surging or going out often
-Appliances are putting out excessive heat
-Outlets sparking or shocking you