Did you know electrical problems are the second leading cause behind house fires? Or that every year, electrical issues cause approximately 51,000 residential fires, almost 500 fatalities, and well over a billion dollars in combined property damage? Most of these fires are due to an inability to recognize potential household electrical hazards and as a result, a lack of proper system maintenance and necessary repairs.
Don’t let your home become part of this statistic. Understanding the basics behind your electrical system is the best way to protect yourself from electricity-related disasters. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of what every homeowner should know.
Know Where Your Circuit Panel Is & Where Each Breaker Is Assigned
If you don’t already know where your circuit breaker panel is, now is the time to locate it. Knowing where your service panel is and how to shut off your circuits is absolutely crucial for the safety of your home and family.
You should also know what each circuit breaker is assigned to, so you can flip the appropriate switch in the event of an emergency. If your circuits aren’t labeled, an electrician can help you determine where each one is assigned. It’s also a good idea to turn each breaker on and off to test for proper functionality.
You Should Know the Signs of an Overloaded Circuit
Being able to recognize the signs of an overloaded circuit is crucial for the safety of your home and family. The circuits in your house are designed to handle a finite amount of electrical current at any given time, and when the current exceeds the circuit’s rating, you may notice:
● Flickering or dimming lights
● Burning odors
● Discolored or scorched outlet and switch covers
● Mild shock from electrical appliances
If you ever observe any of the above issues, turn off the affected circuits in the breaker panel and contact an electrician right away.
You Should Have AFCI and GFCI Outlets in the Appropriate Locations
AFCI and GFCI outlets are designed to protect from fire and electrical shock, respectively. That’s why having these safety outlets in the appropriate locations around your house is so crucial for your safety. If you live in an older home, it may not have GFCI outlets near all water sources (near sinks, in laundry rooms, outdoors, etc.), and it probably won’t have AFCIs in the right spots either.
For the best protection against electrical problems, you should have an electrician perform outlet replacements if you don’t currently have these receptacles where they should be.
Smoke Detectors Need Routine Testing & Replacement
Smoke detectors don’t last forever, and they can only protect you from an electricity-related fire if they’re functioning properly. That’s why you should test your smoke detectors once a month and swap out the batteries every 6 months. Even if you have a hard-wired smoke detection system, test it regularly to make sure it works. If your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them.
Surge Protectors Are Incredibly Beneficial & Highly Recommended
Surge protector strips and whole-house surge protection are designed to protect expensive electronic devices and appliances, but that’s not all they do. These small but mighty protective tools can also help prevent electricity-related house fires by diverting excess current away from places where it can trigger damaging events.
It’s important to note that power strips and point-of-use surge protectors are not the same thing. Power strips are only designed for outlet expansion — they do not protect against surges. Surge-protector strips feature a switch that will kill power to all plugged-in devices while power strips don’t have this safety feature.
Harrison Electric: Your Minneapolis Source for Top-Notch Residential Electricians
When you need any type of electrical repair or service for your Minneapolis or St. Paul home, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Harrison Electric! Since 1985, we’ve proudly served residential properties throughout the Twin Cities metro, and our electricians are fully insured, licensed, and bonded. To schedule an appointment or learn more about our services, feel free to give us a call today at 763-544-3300, request service online, or request a quote, and we’ll be in touch!