How to prevent home electrical fires

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Stop the spark: Avoiding home electrical fires

  1. Learn the causes of home electrical fires that damage your residential property, yourself and your home.
  2. How to prevent these fires by taking precautionary measurements in your home.
  3. Ways to protect your family from electrical fire potential in your home.

Home electrical fires can present a variety of hazardous challenges to homeowners who don’t prioritize electrical safety. As one of the top homeowner risks, these occurrences are as serious as it gets. According to the National Safety Council, it is estimated that more than 30,000 non-fatal electrical accidents occur each year, while between 600 and 1,000 people die yearly.

In this article we’ll address how these fires can start and how homeowners can prevent them altogether. Use these tips in order to find overall electrical safety in your residential property this summer.


What causes home electrical fires?

A large number of electrical fires in residential properties are caused by faulty electrical outlets, outdated wiring, circuit overloads, old appliances and more. In order to ensure safety in your home, it’s important to understand what aspects of your grand electrical system can contribute to the possibility of an electrical fire.


Revisit your outlets, cords & other electrical wiring

Some of the most common causes of power surges are faulty outlets, cords and wiring. Around your home, periodically check for unhinged wall outlets, wobbly wires or loose lighting fixtures. Listen to and observe these devices. If you hear popping or sizzling sounds, this may be a sign that something is awry. If any of these sounds do occur, make sure to shut the appliance off immediately and get it professionally examined and/or replaced.

It’s also important to ensure your wiring is not frayed or placed under carpets, rugs or high traffic areas. Avoid nailing or stapling any wiring to floors, walls and other objects. Refrain from using extension cords as permanent household wiring tactics, as doing so can cause these cords to overheat. To avoid risking a fire, it’s best to only use extension cords on occasion. If you have children living in the home or visiting, ensure their safety by covering your outlets with safety closures to prevent potential shock/burn injuries. For light bulb protection, check both the wiring and wattage to ensure your light bulbs match the fixture requirements. If you notice that your bulbs have higher wattage ratings than recommended, replace those bulbs and make sure they are secure.


Handle appliances/electronics with care

Another step when trying to prevent home electrical fires is to check your appliances for faulty wiring or any potential prolonged damage. In particular, worn appliances can play a large role in creating an electrical safety hazard in your home. Be mindful of your heat appliances, since when they malfunction or are left on for an extended period of time, they can overheat. Revisit all of your appliances and check for cracks or damage in connectors. For your more expensive appliances or electronic devices, use surge protectors, since they do a great job of limiting power surges that can lead to electrical fires.

Older appliances can be highly flammable due to the older insulation used in these devices. In some cases, an electrical repair to fix these issues may not suffice. If this is the case, it’s best to find new and improved appliances to ensure your families overall safety. Find appliances that are energy-efficient, sturdy and fitting for your home and budget. In order to protect your appliances, homeowners can find confidence investing in a home warranty. This policy provides a blanket of protection for your appliances, thus making it easier for a repair or replacement if damage is to occur. For example, if you notice one of your appliances consistently giving you an electric shock, unplug it immediately and have it repaired or replaced.


Update your home’s electrical system

The next step when combating the threat of electrical fires in your home is to check and update your home’s electrical system. If you haven’t checked the condition of your electrical system in an extended period of time, now is the right time. If you don’t know where to start, hire an electrician to ensure your electrical system is working safely and effectively. Review and replace your panel by bringing more energy from the utility to your property. Additionally, you or your electrician can replace the existing meter to make room for more power. In order to receive a true upgrade to this system, replacing a destroyed, frayed electrical panel will help tremendously.

If you reside in an older home, this is especially important because older aluminum wiring and 60-amp electrical systems are found in these homes. Naturally, these copper, rusted, and exhausted wiring materials present a greater risk of overheating. If you find yourself in this situation, consider upgrading to a more modern electrical system that uses refined wiring materials. In order to reduce your chances of an electrical fire, find a system that has at least 100 amps. Not only does upgrading your home’s electrical system ensure your safety, it can also help you save on insurance as well.


Check your service capacity consistently

While upgrading your electrical system can provide a variety of benefits, be mindful when determining the amount of power your home will need. Different homes will need different amp levels, and the amp ratings will correspond to the size and magnitude of your home. For example, a smaller home would need at least 60 amps, while a home of 2,000+ square feet with central A/C will require at least 200 amps. If you need assistance, hire a licensed electrician, since they can help determine the appropriate amp requirements for your home.

As you continue to upgrade your home with more appliances and devices, the electrical service capacity may become overworked. If fuses blow frequently, you may need to increase the capacity of your electrical service by adding new branch circuits. If you want to add energy capacity, check your fuse boxes. If they don’t have space for new circuits, replace the fuse box with a new service panel. However, if you notice a space in your breaker box that can be removed, try to install a new breaker and run power to it.

Don’t hesitate to take professional action if electrical issues begin to affect your property. Protect your house and family by implementing these home electrical fire safety tactics.

Agents, take a look at our Homeowners Program to add to your portfolio of insurance solutions.