Signs to Check Before an Electrical Fire
Electrical fires are the second leading cause of residential fires in the United States and can be particularly dangerous because they often create thick, acrid smoke filling the entire residence.
A typical electrical fire starts with a low voltage that heats an object nearby and then sparks from it as it melts or explodes. The fire can spread quickly and will be difficult to extinguish on its own, especially in a home that has been left unattended. In such homes, the fire will spread through the walls and ceilings of the entire home and only be detected after it is well established.
Flickering or Dimming Lights
A flickering or dim light is often a sign of an electrical fire. A flickering light indicates that an electrical current still flows through the fixture, even though the bulb itself is not lit.
Dim lights, on the other hand, are usually indicators of a low voltage or damaged bulb. You should check the lights to see if they are working correctly and if they flicker. They should also check them to see if the lights are on for a long time when the bulbs have burnt out.
Blown Fuses and Tripped Breakers
A blown fuse or tripped breaker are signs of a short circuit in your home. It is essential to check the fuses and breakers because they can prevent fires under regular operation.
If the fuses and breakers are not working correctly, it could indicate a fire hazard. A circuit breaker or fuse can trip if someone attempts to tamper with your electrical system. They can also indicate that the current is flowing somewhere it should not be.
Outlets Emitting Heat or Smell
A blown fuse, tripped breaker, or overheated electrical outlet are all signs of an electrical fire. While it is essential to check the fuses box, breaker, and outlets that are emitting heat or smell entirely, it is necessary to have a fire extinguisher nearby if one of these conditions occurs.
It is essential to have a fire extinguisher nearby if one of these conditions occurs, as it can prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the home.
Charred Electrical Outlets
Electrical outlets that have burned, charred, or melted away should also be investigated. It is essential to check the outlet to see if it has been pushed into the wall and if an attempt was made to remove it from its mounting location.
If this happened, there would be evidence of the fire on the wall or ceiling. If there is no evidence of damage on the outlet and you cannot remove it from its mounting location, then the outlet should be considered unsafe and should not be used at all.
Old Electrical Wiring
A home with electrical wiring over ten years old should be checked for possible fires. Old wiring may be exposed, broken, or burnt in everyday use. There is a 5% chance of an electrical fire yearly in residence with new drywall and no older wiring.
Extreme temperatures can also damage older wiring, so it is essential to check the wires once the fire has been revealed.
When one outlet is turned on, and another near it is turned on or off, this can signify arcing. Arcing occurs when the electricity travels somewhere other than where it is intended to go. It causes sparks to fly and an electrical fire to start.
While arcing can happen in any part of the house or outside, it most commonly occurs in electrical outlets and switches. It can also occur during storms and when appliances are first turned on.
While electrical fires can be devastating, they are often preventable. It is essential to check the residence’s electrical system and ensure that the electrical outlets and switches are in working order. If you have any doubt about whether or not the place is safe, you should contact a professional for assistance.