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How to Prevent Electrical Fires in Your Home

November 20, 2018

For obvious reasons, preventing fire risks in your home is extremely important to keep your home and family safe. Many fire dangers are hidden within the electrical wiring in your walls, but if you know the warning signs and what to look for, you can prevent tragedy.

You probably already know the basics: light candles with caution, avoid overloading your circuits, using frayed extension cords, or keeping any wiring near water. But there are other fire dangers in your home that you may not even be aware of.

Warning Signs

If any of the following warning signs apply to your home, you should consider having a certified electrician come to your home to examine and inspect your wiring.

1. Old or Outdated Wiring Systems

A wiring system is designed to last up to 30-40 years, which might seem like a long time. However, millions of homes are still using wiring systems that were installed over 50 years ago which poses a serious threat to your home.

Old wiring uses fuses that were intended for about 30 amps of power. Today, wiring is done to accommodate 100-200 amps of power thanks to the fact that we have significantly more appliances in our homes that need to draw off the power.

Some warning signs that you have insufficient power include:

  • Fuses that “blow” frequently
  • Circuit breakers that trip often
  • Over-reliance on extension cords
If you need to use extension cords to properly power all of your appliances and accessories, you need an electrician to inspect your wiring.

Extension cords are meant to be a temporary fix, relying on them to supply power can be a potential electrical fire danger.

Another issue with old, outdated wiring is if the wiring was done in aluminum instead of copper, it poses a serious fire threat. Many homes that were built back in the 1960s and 1970s were wired with aluminum.

Aluminum corrodes and oxidizes more easily than copper, leaving it vulnerable to wiring hazards that can cause a fire to start.

If your home has copper wiring, you can either invest in a complete electrical makeover, or you can have an electrician come and install copper connectors at the breakers and receptacles to help ward off any potential problems.

2. Arc Faults

Arc faults occur when electrical currents veer from their intended path. This usually happens where there is a breach in the wiring that produces heat that is in excess of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, creating significant potential to start a fire. Arc faults are surprisingly easy to cause while doing renovation to a home and moving heavy furniture around.

Luckily, there is a device that you can purchased called an arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) which senses abnormalities in your wiring or appliances and will shut them down before the circuit overheats and starts a fire.

Utilizing AFCIs can reduce your risk of an electrical fire due to an arc fault by up to 50-75%. For this reason, AFCIs are now mandatory in new homes built. Unfortunately, where we see the biggest problem is in older home with older wiring systems.

If you have an old home with outdated wiring, you can hire an electrician to come and install AFCIs on your circuit breakers for a reasonable price.

3. Unreliable Electrical Products

If you ever see vendors selling electrical products such as extension cords, circuit breakers, power strips or even batteries for super low prices, stay away! There is a reason why these electrical products are being sold so cheap; they are shoddy and can be incredibly dangerous.

When it comes to something as important as wiring for your home, you should always only trust products that come from reputable brands. It is well worth the money to invest in high quality electrical equipment that will help prevent fire damage in your home.

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