Every year fire departments in the U.S. respond to approximately 45,000 home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. These fires result in hundreds of deaths and injuries and and $1.6 billion in property damage.
So how do you keep your home safe from the dangers of electrical fires? We've put together a list of warning signs that could indicate an electrical malfunction.
Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
Discolored or warm wall outlets
A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
Flickering or dimming lights
Sparks from an outlet
Before electrical problems become a hazard we recommend following these safety steps in the home.
Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.
Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles.
Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
If outlets or switches feel warm, frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuits, or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.
Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp's recommended wattage.
Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in the kitchen bathroom(s), laundry, basement, and outdoor areas.
Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) should be installed in your home to protect electrical outlets.
If you're concerned about the condition of your home's
Many home in the Allentown area are over 50 years old, and older homes are statistically at higher risk of electrical fires. The main reason older electrical systems are more dangerous is that many have not been updated to meet newer, more stringent code requirements. Deteriorating wires, improper installation and modification, a lack of modern safety devices, along with an increase in the number of electrical devices in homes all combine to increase the risk of electrical fires.
By understanding what outdated wiring looks like, you can learn if your home is at greater risk. Depending on the age of the home, you will find one of three kinds of wiring.
Grounded Electrical Systems
Homes built in the 1940s through the present will have grounded electrical systems. Grounding is a critical safety feature that is designed to reduce the chance of shock or electrocution in the event of a short circuit. Grounding wires are connected directly to the earth through a metal grounding rod or a cold water pipe. Should a short circuit or an overload occur, any extra electricity will find its way along the grounding wire to the earth.
As the price of copper soared, aluminum wiring became more common in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the receptacles and switched of the time we not designed to work with aluminum wire, resulting in bad fitting connections and a greater risk of fire. If your home has aluminum wiring that was installed in the 1960s or 70s have Hucker Electric perform a safety inspection to ensure it is safe and up to code.
Knob & Tube Wiring
The earliest type of wiring found in homes built in the 1800s through the 1930s, knob and tube wiring is an open air system that uses ceramic knobs to keep wires away from combustible framing. These suspended wires were directed through ceramic tubes to prevent contact with the wood framing and starting a fire. Knob and tube wiring is a fire hazard because it's not grounded and is more exposed to damage from old and faulty modification.
Have questions about your home's wiring? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.