What Causes Electrical Fires?

Electrical fires are the cause of over 50,000 fires, approximately 500 deaths, over 1,400 injuries and over $1 billion dollars in property damage a year. They are not only dangerous but can cause a lot of havoc. For safety, it’s important to know what can trigger an electrical fire and how to avoid them.

What is an electrical fire?

An electrical fire is a failure or fault in a section of machines or equipment that causes a fire.  This is usually caused by cables, circuit breakers, electric wires and the electrical parts of an item.

Top 5 causes of an electrical fire

  1. Electrical outlets

Faulty electrical outlets are the top cause of electrical fires. An electrical fire can also happen if the socket is worn out and not properly grounded. The wiring behind the outlets wears out over time, loosens and even breaks. The reason why these can cause a fire is because the faults get triggered when an old appliance is plugged in as it requires a lot of power to work. This then can ignite a blaze. A way to prevent this from happening is by repairing or replacing a faulty outlet as soon as you notice it.

  1. Wiring

Over time, it is common for wiring to wear out and become outdated. Wires that were installed 20 years ago may not have the capacity to handle an increase of power with today’s use of technology and appliances. Once loaded with too much power, the old wires combined with an old breaker box cause an overload and eventually could lead to an electrical fire.

  1. Light fittings and fixtures

Another common cause of an electrical fire is light fixtures, fittings, lamps and light bulbs. The main reason why these can cause an electrical fire is because a light bulb with wattage too high for the lamp or light fixture is installed. Fires can also be caused if fabrics are placed over a lamp which causes the material to heat up, light up and cause a fire.

  1. Circuit overloads

If you keep experiencing short-circuiting due to circuit overloads, this is a recipe for disaster. Plugging in too many cords and appliances or using one extension cord to power multiple items at once, could result in a fire. This is because it creates an extreme power load in one single socket that can’t handle that amount of power.

  1. Portable heaters

When a portable heater is placed too close to a flammable surface, this can easily cause an electric fire. Flammable surfaces include clothing, chairs, couches, beds and rugs. The heater can become very hot especially if it’s an older heater that isn’t regularly maintained or serviced. A very hot heater meeting a flammable surface smells danger. To avoid this from happening, a portable heater should be kept away from these surfaces and regularly serviced. A portable heater should also only be left turned on when attended.

Warning signs of an electrical fire

Spotting warning signs of an electrical fire could avoid a fire causing damage to the safety of you and your home. Here are some warning signs of an electrical fire:

  • Heated outlets
  • Burning smells
  • Short-circuiting
  • Flickering lights
  • Sparks
  • Discoloured outlets

If you spot these warning signs, it’s important to give your local electrician a call as soon as possible to ensure any faults are fixed to avoid an electrical fire.

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