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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Electrical Fires - How They Start

10/15/2020 (Permalink)

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the second leading of cause of house fires in the U.S. is from electrical failures or malfunctions. Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets and outdated appliances. The following are the most common reasons why electrical fires happen:

Old electrical sockets and unsafe appliances

Appliances that are old and overused and those that fall short of modern safety standards are the worst culprits. Frayed electrical cords, self-jointed wires, and worn out sockets that are not properly grounded are major causes of fires. They become ready outlets for directing heat and fire to carpets, rugs, curtains, and combustible plastic. Older appliances draw more power than the wall sockets can handle.

Using light fixtures that exceed the permissible wattage

A very common cause of fires is plugging lights, lighting appliances and bulbs into electrical sockets that cannot handle higher wattage levels. Antique lighting appliances may have defective wiring that makes the appliance unstable by overheating. Decorating lights with colored paper and cloth shades can increase the risk of fire when the material or fabric heats up.

Using multiple appliances plugged into an extension cord

Unrestricted use of extension cords is a major fire hazard. The risk of fire increases when your TV, home theatre, computer and other appliances are all plugged into a single extension cord. This creates excessive power load on a single socket which may not be designed to handle that load.  So, there is a social and economic cost to damaged wiring!

Locating portable heaters near combustible materials

Portable space heaters that use coils are potentially dangerous when they are positioned carelessly near curtains and rugs and adjacent to beds and cloth covered furniture. The chances of inflammable material meeting the red-hot coils increase the risk of fire.

Wiring that becomes defective with the passage of time

Over a period of time you add more electrical appliances such as wide screen televisions, home theatre, microwave oven, refrigerator, and air conditioners. The outdated home wiring cannot handle the increased power load. Older wiring tends to heat up quickly and catches fire. If the breaker boxes are themselves defective, they cannot prevent overheated electrical panels from catching fire.

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