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common causes of electrical fires

7 Common Causes of Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are a result of faulty electrical components such as circuit breakers, wires and electrical receptacles. They can also pose a major threat to personal safety and property because they strike unexpectedly. For this reason, it’s essential to be aware of the common causes of electrical fires and how to prevent them. 

1. Faulty Electrical Outlets and Wiring

Faulty or outdated electrical outlets and wiring are the leading cause of electrical fires. Over time, electrical components break down, particularly in older homes where electrical systems may not meet modern safety standards. Because damaged insulation, loose connections, or frayed wires can generate sparks, regular inspections and upgrades by licensed electricians are essential for protecting your home or business. 

2. Overloaded Circuits

From phones and tablets to computers and appliances, the modern home is full of devices, leading to an increased demand on electrical circuits. Overloading circuits by plugging multiple high-power devices into a single outlet can overheat the wires and trigger an electrical fire. Pay attention to warning signs like frequently tripping circuit breakers, flickering lights, or warm outlets, which might indicate an overloaded circuit. Distributing the electrical load across multiple circuits can alleviate this risk. You may also opt for a surge protector to protect your devices from electrical damage. 

3. Appliance Malfunctions

Many electrical fires are a result of faulty appliances. Homeowners often need to pay more attention to regular maintenance tasks for devices such as heaters, refrigerators, dryers, or air conditioning units that may show faulty cords, shorts, overheating, or even improper installation. Regularly inspecting and servicing your appliances and following proper usage and maintenance guidelines will significantly reduce the risk of an electrical fire.

4. Outdated Electrical Panels

The electrical panel is the central hub of your home’s electrical system and requires regular inspections and upgrades. Older panels may not be equipped to handle the increased electrical demands of modern homes, leading to overheating and potential fire hazards. If your home still has an outdated circuit breaker system, consult an electrician to upgrade it to a modern panel.

5. Improper Extension Cord Usage

Extension cords are convenient but can pose a significant fire risk if misused – this includes overloading them with high-power appliances, running them under carpets or rugs where they can overheat, or using damaged cords. It’s best to install additional outlets whenever possible instead of relying on extension cords.

6. Electrical Insulation Damage

Faulty or inadequate insulation around electrical wires can also cause electrical fires. Damaged insulation can expose wires and increase the risk of short circuits, especially in areas prone to moisture, like basements or kitchens. Regularly inspecting your wiring for any signs of wear and tear and promptly addressing any issues can prevent insulation-related fire hazards.

7. DIY Electrical Work

While DIY projects seem like a good idea in order to save money, electrical work should be left to the professionals. Improperly installed switches, outlets, or light fixtures can create safety hazards and increase the risk of electrical fires. Avoid the temptation to cut corners by hiring a licensed electrician for all installations and repairs, as they have the expertise to ensure electrical systems are safely installed and comply with building codes.

By taking proactive measures that include regular maintenance, professional inspections, and proper usage of electrical systems and appliances, you can significantly reduce your chances of electrical fires in your home and/or business. If you think your electrical system may require attention, don’t wait. Seek help from a licensed electrician today. 

First General is a leading property and restoration company in Edmonton, AB. From fire restoration to complete construction rebuilds, we provide a broad range of responsive restoration–related services guaranteed to help you get back on your feet in no time. For more information, please get in touch with us.