Common Causes of Home Electrical Fires
Inadequate Electrical Capacity
Today’s homes have an increasing number of devices that consume electricity including clothes dryers, water heaters, electric ranges and ovens, dishwashers, home theatres.
As you add appliances to your Vancouver home, the power supply may become inadequate. Anytime you add a major appliance you should have your electrical system checked by a qualified electrician. Don’t ignore warning signs like fuses or circuit breakers tripping or lights dimming!
Here are the primary causes of inadequate power in your Vancouver home:
o Overloaded circuits
o Limited service panel capacity
o Insufficient number of outlets
o Overtaxed transformer
o Inadequate feeder lines
Adding receptacles (or even worse, using extension cords) does not increase the available power. If you find that you are plugging in multiple appliances into one outlet, you need to increase the power supply directly from the distribution panel. Always call a qualified electrician to do it.
Obsolete Equipment or Electrical Systems
Ten years later the average home required 100-amp electrical service and circuit breakers had become standard equipment.
Today, the average new home is equipped with 200-amp electrical service and a distribution panel handling up to 40 fifteen-amp circuit breakers. The kitchen may be equipped with receptacles capable of supplying more than 60 amps to the countertop appliances alone. The air conditioning or HVAC system may take more power than an entire home did 30 years ago.
If your Vancouver home is even twenty years old, chances are it needs to be upgraded! The thirty-year-old distribution panel in your basement or garage the one with the screw-in fuses are almost certainly a fire hazard. Why? Over time, the contacts deteriorate. The point of contact between the buss bar and the base of the fuse oxidizes or charcoals. As current flows, increased heat is generated, leading to failure or fire.
One of the most common fires causing elements is the use of an extension cord in place of permanent wiring. Most people are not aware of this danger. People will take extension cords, and they will plug multiple devices into them for long periods of time. Extension cords are designed for temporary use. Go with a good heavy extension cord if you’re going to use one.
Heaters are a special concern during winter if they are recklessly placed near linen, clothes, curtains, and other combustible items.
Things to Remember
Fires can be caused by electrical system failures, appliance defects, incorrectly installed wiring, misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.
Don’t underestimate the fire risk from electricity. The fact that there is no flame involved does not mean that there is no risk present. Hot plugs and sockets and blown fuses may overheat and start a fire. Exposed wires may cause a spark, leading to a fire.
Kitchen appliances may also cause a fire if not maintained well. Be very careful when dealing with water and electricity to prevent electrical shock and electrical fire.
Many bedroom fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices. Electrical fires can start due to overloading extension cords, heat build-up in worn electric cords, and the use of electric blankets and warmers with no lab approval.
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