Did you know winter is the worst time of year for residential electrical fires? It's true—increased electrical demand during the winter months creates a variety of electrical hazards that many homeowners may not be aware of. At Harrison Electric, we're here to help you protect your home and family from dangerous electrical installation, improper use, and outdated electrical systems. To help you recognize where these common hazards occur, we've put together this brief guide. If any of the following situations sound familiar, it's time to contact us for upgrades.

Outdated Wiring

Power use always increases in winter as homeowners crank up their heat, add space heaters, plug in their vehicles, and generally stay indoors more often. Increased electrical demand on old and outdated wiring can easily overload a home’s electrical system, potentially causing shorts, arcing, and even fires. If your wiring has passed the 20-year mark without an upgrade, it’s time for an electrical inspection from a qualified residential electrician. Your electrical panel wiring and older outlets may need updates to efficiently handle increased demand during the colder months.

Overloaded Outlets

If you own an older home, chances are you’re short on electrical outlets, and many times, your home may not feature a single GFCI outlet for added appliance protection. Decades-old electrical code did not stipulate outlet placement as specifically as today’s code, so depending on your home’s age, you may have just one or two outlets per room. In such cases, it can be tempting to plug in a power strip to add extra receptacles, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.

The wiring in older homes was designed to handle about half the electrical demand of today’s typical household. When you plug several electronic devices into one outlet, you create excessive power draw, which can cause blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, arcing, sparks, and ultimately, electrical fires. To be safe, never plug more than two devices into an outlet at once.

Space Heaters

Space heaters can really save you in a pinch, but they’re not necessarily the safest heating choice. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, improper space heater use results in approximately 25,000 house fires each year. To avoid a dangerous electrical situation, always plug space heaters into a dedicated outlet and unplug them when not in use.

Outdoor Outlets

If you own an electric snowblower, hang decorative lighting, or plug your vehicle in at night, you likely use outdoor outlets throughout the winter. These outlets should feature flip covers designed to protect the receptacles from snow and ice accumulation. However, old electrical code did not mandate cover installation, and as a result, many older homes have unprotected outdoor outlets.

Homeowners run into another safety hazard when their outdoor outlets are not GFCIs. Ground fault circuit interrupters provide an extra layer of protection for outdoor electrical appliances by detecting ground faults and ceasing current flow to the affected outlet. Prior to 1973, electrical code did not require GFCIs on all exterior outlets, but modern electrical code mandates their installation. If your home does not have outdoor outlet covers or GFCIs, for safety’s sake, contact a residential electrician for outlet replacements.

Harrison Electric: Your Expert Residential Electricians

Winter is a prime time for residential electrical hazards, and at Harrison Electric, we’re here to ensure your home and family are well-protected. For over 30 years, we’ve been one of the Twin Cities’ premier electrical contractors, and that’s because we’re fully committed to industry-leading electrical installation, transparent pricing, and honest service. Whether your home needs outlet replacements, rewiring, or electrical panel upgrades, our team has the experience you need and service you can trust. To learn more about our services or to schedule your appointment, give us a call at 763-544-3300 or feel free to message us on our contact page.