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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How Do Electrical Fires Start?

7/22/2019 (Permalink)

Accidents involving items such as matches that have a visible flame are typically what we think of when we consider what usually starts residential fires. A considerable percentage of these household fires are ignited by electrical complications. The heavy use of heating appliances and light fixtures during the winter season commonly increases the risk of an electrical fire igniting. The first step to preventing electrical fires from starting in your home is understanding what causes them.

How Electrical Fires Ignite

Light fixtures require light bulbs with the appropriate, recommended wattage. If a light bulb with a higher wattage than what is recommended is placed in a light fixture, an electrical fire can ignite. In order to keep light fixtures as safe as possible, combustible items including cloth and paper should be kept away from the lamp or light bulb, as they would overheat and ignite if they were to come in contact with the bulb.

Electrical fires can also start if frayed electrical wires are being used. Curtains, rugs, and other combustible household items can ignite when appliances are plugged into outlets using damaged wires. Make sure that frayed wires are not running underneath or on top of carpets, as doing so can cause the carpet to catch fire.

When an appliance isn’t located near an outlet, it may seem convenient to utilize an extension cord to power it. However, extension cords are no more than temporary wiring solutions, so using them as permanent wiring solutions would increase the chances of an electrical fire igniting. Make sure that appliances are solely plugged into wall outlets in order to decrease the risk of danger. If your home needs more wall outlets to accommodate the number of appliances, contact an electrician to install more.

It is also important to consider the age of your home and based on that, whether or not its wiring system is deteriorating in condition. If your home is more than 20 years old, it’s possible that its wiring may not be able to accommodate the amount of electrical power required by the numerous electrical appliances in your home, as it was designed in a time when homes housed fewer electrical appliances. In the event of a power overload, your home’s breaker system should be triggered, but an electrical fire can immediately ignite without warning if the breakers are too overwhelmed to send a warning. 

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