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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How Do Electrical Fires Start?

7/22/2019 (Permalink)

We usually associate items such as candles or matches that generate visible flames with the ignition of household fires, but electrical problems cause a significant percentage of those residential fires. The risk of an electrical fire is enhanced during the winter months, as people turn to heating systems such as space heaters to deal with the cold weather. Understanding which factors cause electrical fires can help you to take preventative measures against them.

What Causes Electrical Fires

Utilizing light bulbs with a greater wattage than what is recommended by a specific light fixture can cause an electrical fire to ignite. Stick to the wattage that is recommended in order to prevent electrical fires from starting. Combustible items, when placed too close to light bulbs, can overheat and ignite, so make sure that items such as cloth and paper are kept at a safe distance away from light fixtures in order to prevent a fire.

If you are using damaged wires that are torn or frayed in order to power electrical appliances, you are at a greater risk of an electrical fire igniting in your home. When wires are damaged, heat can be transferred to nearby combustible items within your home, including rugs and curtains. Be sure to also keep wires off of carpets, as they are combustible and can ignite if a damaged wire is running over top or underneath of them.

Powering electrical appliances using an extension cord when appliances are not located near a wall outlet can enhance the probability of an electrical fire igniting. Electrical appliances must be plugged into wall outlets because extension cords are designed for short-term use and therefore cannot be substitutes for permanent wiring systems. Powering electrical appliances through wall outlets instead of extension cords is a much safer practice and can help protect your home from electrical fires. If doing so seems impossible due to a lack of wall outlets, hire an electrician to install more or stick to the necessities when it comes to powering electrical appliances.

 Lastly, keep the age of your home in mind when deciding how many electrical appliances to power in your home. Many homes that are 20 years or older in age were constructed in a time when homes didn’t require as much electrical power, so their wiring systems may not be strong enough to accommodate the volume of electrical appliances found in modern homes. It is also important to recognize that breaker systems in older homes may fail if there is a power overload and therefore give no warning before an electrical fire ignites.

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