Right Connections Electric promotes safety above all. Based on our knowledge and years of extensive experience, we provide you with the following tips to help prevent electrical fires, and mitigate hidden hazards that may be lurking around your home or business.
If your home or business is 40 years old or older, consider a complete rewire.
Have a qualified electrician perform an overall electric inspection. Wires might be exposed, insulation might be brittle, or wires might be tangled, especially in attics or basements. While metals may remain intact over time, insulation becomes vulnerable. Even a small crack on wire insulation may suggest that all other wires are in the same condition, rendering the entire wiring dangerous.
Check your main electrical panel.
Make sure that the breakers or fuses are properly rated for the circuit that they are protecting and that all breakers or fuses are identified and labeled properly. If you are replacing any, make sure that you replace it with one of the same size and rating. If you are not comfortable with these tasks, have a qualified electrician perform them for you.
Check all electrical outlets and switches.
Loose devices may cause shocks, arcing, or short circuits that in turn may start fires. Replace broken or cracked protective wall plates, and ensure that wires and electrical components are not exposed. Consider installing tamper-resistant receptacles. If you have young children, place child proof safety covers on all unused outlets. Ensure that no outlet is overloaded with many appliances. Overloading a circuit may cause wire to overheat, which could melt the insulation, and potentially ignite, causing an electrical fire. If a switch is loose, can be effortlessly toggled with the touch of a finger, or it switches position without a clicking sound, it is a sign of poor condition. Loose or partially broken switches commonly cause electric arcs.
Extension cords should never be used as a permanent wiring method.
Have additional outlets installed around you, and where you need them. If you are using extension cords, ensure they have safety closures to prevent contact with exposed parts. Never use an indoors extension cord for outdoors use. If extension cords are to be used outdoors, use heavy duty cords; although more expensive, these cords are less likely to be damaged.
Check the cords and plugs of all your appliances.
Make sure cords and plugs are not frayed, cracked or damaged. Ensure all cords have clearance, and are not placed under floor mats, rugs, or carpets. Do not rely on furniture to secure cords in place, and do not nail or staple cords to walls, or ceilings.
Check all light bulbs.
Bulbs should be screwed in securely tightened. Loosely screwed in bulbs may cause an electric arc. If you need to replace a bulb, make sure not to replace it with one that has higher wattage than recommended.
If an appliance repeatedly trips a circuit breaker or blows a fuse, turn the appliance off and unplug it.
Do not just keep resetting the circuit breaker; an unrelated faulty condition in the same circuit might be tripping the circuit breaker. Have a qualified electrician troubleshoot the problem before using the same plug again.
Check for or install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).
A GFCI is an inexpensive duplex electrical outlet that instantaneously shuts off an electric circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, possibly through water or through a person. It significantly reduces the risk of electric shock. GFCIs should be installed in areas were moisture is present such as in bathrooms and kitchens, and should be tested monthly to ensure proper functionality.
Consider installing arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI).
An AFCI is an inexpensive duplex electrical outlet designed to help prevent fires by detecting an unintended electrical arc, and instantaneously shutting off the electrical circuit before the arc starts a fire.
Check or install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (CO detectors).
Smoke detectors detect the smoke generated by flaming or smoldering fires, whereas CO detectors detect and warn people about dangerous CO buildup caused, for example, by a malfunctioning fuel-burning device. In the home, some common sources of CO include open flames, space heaters, water heaters, blocked chimneys or running a car inside a garage. If your home or business is equipped with smoke and CO detectors, make sure they are tested monthly. Check for battery integrity and air passages.
Below are few statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration:
- 60% of home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working alarms.
- 80% of deaths happen from people breathing in smoke and not from burns.
- More than 37% of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present. Inhaling smoke causes drowsiness and sleepiness.