Top Causes of Electrical Fires

Published: 13th October 2009
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What are the top causes of electrical fires and how can you avoid them? We asked Bill Lutz, an electrician with Generation 3 Electric in Philadelphia, to share his top tips.

1) Careless installation: Often a general contractor will offer to do electrical work for a cheap rate in addition to whatever other job they were hired to do. This is a mistake that can sometimes be fatal. Licensed electricians know all the proper safety precautions that a lay contractor won't. Always hire a licensed and reputable electrician rather than a contractor. Though you may save a little bit of money in the short term, it won't be worth it if your house burns down.

2) Disrepair: Lutz said his staff is trained to ask, "Is there anything in the house that makes you nervous?" It seems to self-explanatory and simple, but people often don't think to mention that cracked outlet or broken switch or some other seemingly small thing that sometimes crackles or looks a little dangerous.

3) Overloaded circuits: People are putting too much demand on circuits that were not designed for that much use. Older houses that have old power circuits and new appliances use a lot more electricity than older systems were designed for. Be sure to follow these electrical safety tips to assure that your circuits do not overload, which can lead to a fire. If your microwave oven and coffeemaker are plugged into the same outlet than that should trip the breaker. If it does not, your breakers might be damaged and a circuit can overload and cause a fire.

4) Overusing extension cords: If you have a lot of splitters and extension cords running all over the house and tons of appliances plugged in, you probably don't have enough circuits to handle the power you are trying to use. This type of carelessness can lead to an overload or a fire. Use outlets as they were meant to and use quality surge strips instead of splitters.

5) Old breakers, boxes and wiring: Old systems were not meant to handle the type and amount of power that is commonly in use today. Old wires had much lower safety standards and are probably victims of natural wear and tear on top of that. Breakers and fuse boxes that are out of date can overload and alight if there is a surge. Several types of old electrical panels (such as Federal Pacific and Pushamatic) carry lots of federal safety warnings.

Be sure to have your electric system inspected to insure that everything is up to date so you, your home and your family remain safe from electrical fires.

Bill Lutz is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a Electrical Expert or more Electrician articles at Yodle Consumer Guide. Top Causes of Electrical Fires

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