According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), 2010 saw electrical failures or malfunctions as factors in an estimated 46,500 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments. These wiring fires comprised of about 13 percent of all the reported home fires. The causes of these wiring fires is nearly split in half between electrical failures/malfunctions and appliances.
Electrical Failures & Malfunctions
Half of the wiring fires reported involved some kind of electrical distribution problem or lighting equipment. Anything from frayed cables and wires to stray voltage to overloaded outlets can cause fires. Frayed cables are an issue because the protective exterior to the wires that carry the current, which run hot, is torn up and can catch fire from the heat of the wiring. Stray voltage comes from poor wiring and can cause the wiring to carry more voltage than it’s capable and this can also cause the wires to ignite. Overloaded outlets suffer the same fate; plugging too many things into your outlets, by using extension cords mainly, will draw too much power into the outlet’s apparatus, cause it to overheat and possibly ignite or melt and malfunction.
- Don’t use appliances and electronics that have frayed cords. Apple’s MacBooks are notorious for frayed charging cords. Replace the cords immediately.
- If a specific outlet in your house causes lights to burn out quickly or always triggers your circuit breaker, call in an electrician. The wiring is probably faulty and it poses a threat.
- Sometimes there’s a lot to be done or there aren’t enough outlets spread around the house. Don’t overload the outlets. Call an electrician to install more outlets.
Appliance-Caused Wiring Fires
While we are adamant about using surge protectors to protect your electronics from power surges, we don’t mean large appliances like refrigerators or stoves. Those must be plugged directly into the wall. Appliances like that, when drawing power through an extension cord, can overload that apparatus and ignite the plastic coating. If you do have a problem outlet like we mentioned above, don’t plug a heavy-duty appliance into it.
- Plug appliances directly into the wall; avoid using power strips.
- Consider having an Arc-fault circuit interrupter installed. This apparatus first detects overloaded, erratic, or reduced currents and then trips the circuit to prevent wiring fires.
If you think you might have some faulty wiring or want to safeguard your home against wiring fires by having an arc-fault circuit interrupter installed, contact your friendly residential electrician, Allen Electrical, today!