In some of our previous blogs, we have mentioned the hazards of poorly-installed, low-quality or ill-maintained electrical systems, and how they can become the cause of electrical fires. Not only does this pose a danger to your property, but it can also become a threat to the lives of those living or working there. Here we take a look at the different causes of electrical fires and how to prevent them:
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ELECTRICAL FIRE?
This is a fire that starts as a result of overloaded, hot or sparking wires on your property. Electrical wiring runs right through your home, and along or adjacent to timber features. If any circuit becomes damaged or overloaded, it can become excessively hot and produce a spark. If the circuit breaker doesn’t detect this and fails to disconnect the current quickly, that can result in a fire.
Because most electrical wiring is concealed behind walls and cabinetry, you will not be aware that this problem has occurred in the first place. By the time you notice the smoke leaking out of vents or outlets, a significant amount of damage will already have been done. This situation can pose more of a risk if the fire breaks out at night when you and your family members are asleep.
ELECTRICAL FIRES – THE COMMON CAUSES
Some of the most common causes of electrical fires include:
#1 Light bulbs are incompatible with fixtures
Some people use high wattage bulbs in fixtures that aren’t built for it. This results in a build-up of heat in the wiring and causes them to melt which in turn can lead to a fire.
#2 Faulty and old equipment and appliances
This includes appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, dryers and electrical fixtures such as receptacles and outlets etc. If these are old have seen many years of use the wiring can become old, frayed and exposed and become a fire risk.
#3 Incorrect use of extension cords
Many people use extension cords as a permanent attachment to plug in appliances and electrical devices. But this is not recommended as extension cords aren’t built to bear the loads that these equipment and devices demand. Chaining electrical cords or running them under carpeting or furniture can prove to be another hazard because the signs of deterioration would go unnoticed and damaged or exposed wiring can result in a fire.
PREVENTING ELECTRICAL FIRES – THE BEST WAY TO DO IT
Here are some things you can do to prevent electrical fires in your home:
Ensure that the main electrical panel is updated and properly organized, or else it will fail to detect overloads and perform its function of protecting your property from an electrical fire.
Get all the electrical systems on your property inspected annually. A professional electrician would be able to detect problems in the system early and fix them before they become an electrical hazard.
The electrician will be able to identify the areas that require upgrading and brought up to code.
There are certain precautions that you should be taking as well. Regularly check your electrical equipment, appliances, extension cords and other fixtures for signs of wear and damage. If you are in doubt, call in an electrician to inspect the installation and fix them as required.