In 2011, approximately 41,000 home fires were sparked by electricity and by 2015, that number rose by 16,000! Here we are at the beginning of 2019 and you can safely assume that this number has increased yet again. Upon inspection after the fact, it was determined that many, if not most, of those fires could have been prevented if the homeowner had been aware of the warning signs. Here are the four most common to watch for.
1. Old Wiring and Outlets
Many home fires sparked by electrical faults happen in older homes with older wiring and/or outlets. If you live in an older home built prior to the 1960s, you may want to hire a team of certified electrical engineers to do a thorough inspection of the wiring in your home. They can determine if there is a potential for shorting within the wiring and also if you need extra surge protection in the kitchen or home offices where equipment and appliances draw a majority of your power.
2. Repeated Circuits Being Tripped
You may have a faulty piece of equipment or appliance somewhere if you notice that a specific circuit breaker keeps on tripping. If you find that to be the case, don’t delay! Get an electrical engineer on the job as soon as possible to determine the root cause. It only takes one spark from one short to set your entire home ablaze, endangering the safety and lives of anyone and anything inside. If you have several circuits tripping often, the danger is even higher. It could be the breaker box itself!
3. Charred Outlets
Have you ever walked through your home or the home of a friend and seen a charred outlet? This is the result of something being plugged in that shorted out. Even a hair dryer can cause a home fire if it shorts out, sending an electrical spark into something flammable nearby. If you have any outlets which are discolored, even slightly, it’s time to have them inspected.
4. The smell of Burning Wire or Plastic
Then there are those times that you smell something curious like melting or burning plastic but you can’t locate the source of the smell. Many times it’s because you are smelling faulty wiring behind the walls of your home or an appliance that is shorting out. You don’t have x-ray vision so you really can’t see that there is something amiss. If you notice the smell of burnt plastic and can’t identify the source, it’s time to get that electrician on the job.
Never sacrifice safety because you can’t readily observe a problem in your electrical wiring. Things like charred outlets and circuits that trip are obvious, but smells could be coming from anywhere. Instead of thinking that you are ‘imagining’ things, it’s imperative that you get to the bottom of it. The cost of rewiring your home is much less than replacing home and contents, so don’t let it slide because of an expense you think you can’t afford. If you notice any of the above, act now to prevent loss tomorrow. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.