When To Contact An Electrician To Avoid Having An Electrical House Fire

Sep 3, 2014 by

When you have a properly working and safe electrical system in your home, you can avoid the danger of an electrical house fire. The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that 51,000 homes catch on fire every year due to faulty electrical systems. To make sure that you and your family are safe from a house fire, contact an electrician for any of the following scenarios.

Before You Buy A House

Before signing on the dotted line, call an electrician to inspect the wiring system in the home that you’re planning to buy. An electrician will use a checklist when inspecting the home and below are some of the things that an electrician will do during the inspection.

  • Inspect the circuit breaker box for charred residue, wear, age, and overheating fuses or breakers.
  • Check for ground fault circuit interrupters in the bathroom and kitchen outlets. These will prevent electrical shocks from outlets that are close to a water source.
  • Test all the outlets and light switches to see if they are working properly.
  • Inspect the outlets and switches to check for heat, discoloration, or odors.

If You Live In An Older Home

If your house is older than 50 years, it’s not uncommon to start seeing some signs of electrical problems due to the types of wiring used years ago. Many older homes have knob and tube or aluminum wiring. Both of these types of wiring can overheat and possibly cause a house fire.

Before 1950, the type of wiring installed in homes was knob and tube wiring. This type of wiring has knobs and tubes made of ceramic. The knobs hold the wires in position and the tubes cover the wires that run through the walls.

There is no ground wire and the outlets all have two prongs instead of three. The rubber that insulates the wires can degrade and become a fire hazard.

If your home was built in the late 60s or early 70s, it’s probably wired with aluminum wiring. This type of wiring is susceptible to overheating due to corrosion and loose connections from the wires to the electrical outlets. As these wires and connections get hotter, they can catch on fire.

When You Notice Electrical Problems

Even if you don’t know anything about electrical systems, you’ll be able to spot these electrical issues in your home.

  • Flickering Lights—When the lights in your home constantly flicker off and on, this is generally caused by a loose connection in the circuit. This can lead to an electrical arc, which can result in a house fire.
  • Charred Outlets—A black or grey film on your switch plate or outlet cover signifies that there is a bad connection or bad wiring close to the switch or outlet. The charring occurs because of burning or smoldering wires behind the plate.
  • A Burnt Odor—If you’re smelling a burnt odor and you can’t determine where it’s coming from, it may be an electrical problem. This smell is often from an electrical short inside of the walls and it may accompany a charred outlet as described above.
  • Circuit Breaker Tripping—If your circuit breaker frequently trips and the power shuts off, your electrical system can’t handle the electrical load in your home. Multiple appliances, electronics, and your HVAC unit all running at the same time can be too much for your electrical system. When this occurs, the circuit breaker shuts off automatically to prevent overheating.

To keep you and your family safe, make sure that you have a working smoke alarm on every floor in your home. If you suspect that the wiring in your home is faulty, contact an electrician to inspect, repair, or rewire your electrical system.

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