What Causes Electrical Fires?

Electrical fires are one of the most common types of household fire. Every year, there are almost 30,000 electrical fires in the US. Such a fire could cause a huge amount of damage to your home, or worse could cause harm to you or your family – so it’s worth knowing how to prevent them. 

There are a few different things that can cause an electrical fire. Below are some of the most common causes to look out for.

Botched DIY electrics

Electrical work is something you generally shouldn’t attempt to handle yourself unless you’re a licensed electrician. Botched DIY electrics are a leading cause of electrical fires. Unless you’re doing something relatively simple like replacing an old light fitting, it’s best to always hire an electrician.

Of course, botched electrics can sometimes be the work of a past owner. If you notice issues like messy wiring, loose outlets or flickering lights, it could be worth getting your electrics checked by a professional.

Old wiring

Old buildings with original wiring are a big fire risk. Such wiring may be worn and unable to meet the demands of today’s appliances. This could lead to red-hot exposed wiring.

Frequent circuit breaker trips, flickering lights and buzzing outlets are all signs that your home’s wiring may be old and in need of replacement. You should be particularly wary of burning smells coming from outlets or scorch marks – this could be a sign that a fire is imminent. Call an electrician to take a look if you suspect something could be wrong.

Old appliances

You should also be careful of using very old appliances – especially if they have visibly worn cables or parts. Such appliances are more likely to experience electrical problems, which could include overheating and causing a fire.

Old refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers are just some of the appliances to look out for. Make sure that you replace any appliances that are looking old. On top of reducing the risk of a fire, you could also reduce your energy bills by switching to newer appliances. 

Rodents chewing through wires

If your home has rodents, this could be something to be concerned about. Rodents don’t only carry bacteria and fleas – they can also cause damage by chewing things. This could include cables. This could then lead to exposed wires that could cause a fire if they contact with something flammable.

Make sure that any rodent problem is sorted out to reduce the risk of an electrical fire. You may want to hire a pest control company such as Terminix Pest Control Solutions. You can then look at addressing the damage. 

Overloaded plug sockets

Plug sockets are only designed to deliver a certain amount of watts. Most aren’t designed to handle anything more than 3000 watts. Exceed this and you could cause the socket to overheat, possibly leading to a fire.

Plug sockets can easily become overloaded once you start plugging extension cords and adaptor plugs into them. While something like charging a phone uses very little watts, appliances like irons and kettles use up huge amounts of watts (sometimes as many as 3000) – as a result you should never plug appliances into an adaptor plug or extension cable for a long period of time. If you don’t have enough sockets in your home, it’s much safer to get an electrician to install new ones rather than relying on extension cables and adaptor plugs.  

Unsafe portable heater usage

Portable electric heaters are a common culprit when it comes to electric fires. Placing one of these heaters too close to a flammable object could cause that object to go up in flames. Newer portable heater models tend to be safer in this regard, however you should still take caution.

Always make sure that portable heaters aren’t directly next to curtains, bedsheets or sofas. Only use them when you are awake and in the room – turn them off when you go to bed or when you exit the room so that there’s no risk of these heaters causing a fire without you noticing. 

Hot bulbs making contact with flammable items

Bulbs on lamps can get very hot – especially very bright lamps. If these lamps are placed too close to flammable objects, it could start a fire.

You should be careful as to what objects you place near lamps for this reason. Avoid placing items like cans of deodorant, bottles of nail polish remover, bottles of hand sanitizer or packets of laundry detergent near lamps. 



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