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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How Do Electrical Fires Start?

7/22/2019 (Permalink)

When we think about residential fires, the first things that usually come to mind are accidents with matches, candles, or other items that involve a visible flame. However, electrical issues are often invisible culprits, erupting in electrical fires, which account for a significant margin of all residential fires. Electrical fires are most common during the cold, dark winter months due to increased use of heating systems as well as light fixtures. Understanding what causes electrical fires can help you to prevent them from igniting in your home.

Common Causes of Electrical Fires

The use of inadequate electrical wires in the home can often cause electrical fires to ignite if the wires are torn or frayed. When plugged into outlets, appliances with frayed wires can relocate heat to nearby combustible items such as curtains and rugs, which can catch fire. Refrain from running faulty cords under or on top of rugs in order to prevent carpets from igniting.

Be sure to utilize the correct wattage bulb for light fixtures, as installing a bulb with a higher wattage than what is recommended for the fixture can cause a fire. Make sure to also keep combustible items such as cloth on lightbulbs, as the contact with the bulb can cause the item to overheat and subsequently ignite.

Relying on extension cords instead of wall outlets to power appliances may be convenient, but they can increase the risk of an electrical fire igniting because they are only temporary devices for wiring. All major electrical appliances should be plugged into wall outlets to prevent extension cords from creating electrical shock or igniting fires, which can occur if extension cords are utilized over an extended period of time. Call an electrician to install more wall outlets instead if you have a shortage.

Finally, the age of your home and its wiring can be problematic due to the increased amount of electricity demanded by modern electrical appliances if your home was not built within the last 20 years. In theory, the breakers in your home should be triggered if there has been an electricity overload, but aging breakers may not be capable of giving that warning and immediately cause an electrical fire instead.

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