Ask an Electrical Contractor: How to Recognize and Prevent Causes of Electrical Fires (Part II)
In our previous post, we discussed how to recognize the signs of an electrical fire. Here, we will discuss the causes and prevention of electrical fires in more detail. Observing a few simple rules can save thousands of dollars in fire damage, and, at best, save lives.
Chances are, you don’t live with a professional electrical contractor or have a licensed electrician for a neighbor — someone with the skills and expertise necessary to recognize that a problem within your electrical system exists. This is the fundamental challenge for electrical fire prevention:
By the time outlets start burning and emitting smoke, an electrical fire might well be underway, spreading, out of sight, inside the walls of your home or office building. Even worse, attempting to put out this type of fire can be tricky. For example, using water can cause electrocution and using chemical powders can cause the fire to smolder temporarily, only to reignite.
Where there is heat, there is fire, but where there is an electrical fire, there is likely a faulty wiring system. In fact, most electrical fires are the result of faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. The unsuspecting victim uses the faulty outlet, overloading it with extension cords or power strips, or during the holidays, a string of Christmas lights for the tree. So, how can you protect yourself and your family?
Electrical Contractor Tip #4 – Consult with a Professional
Sometimes electrical fires are not the result of user abuse. If your home is older or if you’ve experienced problems in the past, hire an electrical contractor to determine if additional circuits or wall outlets are needed or if an electrical upgrade is required.
Electrical Contractor Tip #5 – Use Smoke Detectors
Keep working smoke detectors in your home — a single detector per floor, per bedroom/sleeping areas, per 30 feet of hallway length, and at least one in every stairwell. Note that these ratios are only the minimums. If a fire starts in an attic or crawl space, it may go undetected for some time. For this reason, we recommend that you exceed these minimums as you see fit. Remember that a smoke detector only works when smoke passes the sensor, so taking these extra precautions could save your life.
Electrical Contractor Tip #6 – Practice Prevention Regularly
As this holiday season passes, we are reminded that most fires and electrical fires occur during the months of December and January. Put a freeze on wintertime electrical fires or electrical fires any time of year:
- Never run power or extension cords under combustible materials, such as bedding or carpeting.
- Contact a 1-888-burnt-out? electrical contractor if you have recurring problems with fuses or circuit breakers, discolored or warm light switches and wall sockets, cracked or broken outlets.
Lastly, it cannot be overstated that only a licensed professional should complete the types of repairs necessary for the problems discussed in this post. Faulty or shoddy workmanship can cause electrical damage, which in turn can cause fires. Save a life: Learn to recognize and prevent the causes of electrical fires.
Enjoy this holiday season and review the Christmas tree and lighting safety tips in our post: “Top Indoor and Outdoor Lighting Tips for the Holiday Season.”