Now that winter is here, most of us are spending considerable time indoors. And as we spend more time inside, we place much greater loads on our electrical systems. But not every household electrical system is properly set up to handle that additional load.
If your house falls into that category, it could be at risk for a fire. Below, the experts at Harrison Electric share common electrical system fire hazards to help you assess whether your home is at risk.
Faulty Electrical Outlets and Light Switches
Faulty outlets and light switches aren’t always easy to identify since the signs of a malfunctioning receptacle or switch often occur inside your walls. That said, there are a few blatantly obvious signs that almost always indicate a problem with your switches or outlets. Keep an eye out for the following red flags:
● Outlets that spark when you plug something in
● Discolored, scorched, or smoking outlets
● Odd burning or melting odors when you plug something in to an outlet or use a light switch
● Outlets or switches that are warm to the touch or that vibrate
● Flickering, dimming, or buzzing noises when you use an outlet or light switch
If you ever observe any of the above issues, contact an electrician at your earliest convenience. You must have the affected outlet or switch inspected and in most cases, you’ll also need to have an outlet replacement or new light switch installation.
If your home has decades-old appliances, it may be time to consider replacing them. Outdated appliances are notorious for causing house fires because their cords wear and fray over time. Even if you can’t see deterioration on the outside of an old appliance cord, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a potential problem inside it.
If you’re set on hanging onto your old appliances, check the cords for unusual signs of warmth at the very least. A damaged cord can produce heat where it attaches to the appliance or at any point along its length. That heat can easily transfer to your floor, walls, or into the appliance itself and start a fire. It’s also a good idea to have an electrician inspect old appliances for potential safety hazards you may not be able to identify.
Overloaded Circuits, Power Strips, and Extension Cords
Do you have one or more circuit breakers that trip all the time? What about fuses that repeatedly blow? Tripped circuits and blown fuses aren’t inherently hazardous if they occur infrequently, but if the problem happens all the time, you may have a fire hazard on your hands.
Often, these problems occur as a result of power strip or extension cord misuse. If you overload your power strips or use extension cords excessively because you don’t have enough outlets, you’re putting your house at risk.
It’s important to note that aside from power strips and extension cords, there are plenty of other potential culprits behind overloaded circuits and fuses. For safety’s sake, schedule an electrical inspection with a licensed electrician.
Outdated wiring is one of the leading causes of household electrical fires, especially the aluminum and knob-and-tube varieties. If your home is over 20 years old, it may still contain these types of outdated wiring or may not be equipped to handle modern electrical demands. When old wiring is forced to handle electrical loads that are too great for its capacity, it can short circuit, trip a breaker, or ultimately start a fire.
If you think your house might have outdated wiring, don’t wait to find out the hard way. Have a licensed electrician inspect your electrical system for outdated components. If he locates outdated wiring or other components, you should seriously consider rewiring your house or replacing your electrical panel wiring.
Need to Talk to an Electrician? Contact Harrison Electric
If you’re worried your electrical system is unsafe, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Harrison Electric. Our electricians are fully licensed, certified, bonded, and insured, and we strive to deliver the highest quality workmanship and customer service in the industry. To get a service quote, schedule an appointment, or learn more about how we can help you, call our Minneapolis office today at 763-544-3300 or contact us online.