With so many potential ways to create unintentional fires with heaters, its easy to forget that electrical problems cause more residential fires than any other source, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Heres an example: When we visited my wifes parents this summer, I asked why the light over the sink wasnt working. They hadnt realized it was out.
Alan D. Miller is a Dispatch managing editor who writes about old-house repair. Read his blog at blog.Dispatch.com/old house. Send questions to Old House Handyman, The Dispatch, 34 S. 3rd St., Columbus, OH 43215 or by e-mail. Follow him on [email protected]
Cracked insulation on extension cords. Replace extension cords every few years. They cost only a few dollars, which should explain why they need to be replaced frequently.
Technically, this past week was national Fire Prevention Week, but fire prevention is something you should practice all year.
In general, take some time this week to talk with your family about fire safety. Map and communicate several options for escaping your house if a fire erupts. Also designate a meeting place so that you can make sure everyone is out safely.
A persistent burning smell coming from an appliance, room or area of the house. This can indicate that an appliance is overheating or malfunctioning. Unplug the appliance or turn off the circuit breaker.
Flickering or dimming lights. This could indicate a short in the wiring, dangerous arcing or an overextension of your homes electrical systems.
October is the month when firefighters push fire prevention, and with good reason: Its when many of us flip on our furnaces for the start of the winter heating season. Were also stoking fireplaces and installing stoves to keep our homes warm. Some plug in or light up portable heaters.
A shock when you touch an appliance. Unplug the appliance and discontinue use.
And if you dont have detectors, shame on you. They are cheap and easy to install. We have nine in our house, and Im not sure thats enough.
Electrical hazards can go unnoticed or unseen, and even seemingly minor problems can lead to a devastating fire. So if a light flickers or a switch no longer works, have it checked.
Frequent blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Investigate the problem, and dont simply install a bigger fuse or repeatedly reset the circuit breaker.
Discolored or warm wall outlets, or sparks from an outlet. These are serious danger signs. Do not use the outlet or switch.
A friend took all of his electrical outlets apart and checked every connection after he bought his current house.
Upon closer inspection, I found that an extremely poor connection inside the fixture had caused the end of one of the wires to become so hot that it had fried the insulation on the wire.
If you dont already have a routine for replacing batteries in your smoke, fire and carbon-monoxide detectors, this would be a good time to get in the habit of doing so annually in October. If your detectors are more than 5 or 6?years old, you should replace them, too.
The fire-protection association offers these warning signs of electrical problems:
We’ve been providing electrical contracting services to the construction industry since 1967. We bring our extensive experience and knowledge into your home to deliver our HOME SAFE program. Birnie Electric is so confident after performing an ERA and follow-up repairs that we provide in writing a 5-YEAR GUARANTEE! Now that’s peace of mind.
In the past two years, house fires of all causes claimed 2,755 lives in the United States and injured 13,160. Two of every five fire deaths were in houses with no smoke alarms, and another one in five were in houses with smoke alarms that were not working.
Fires that start in electrical systems or lighting equipment kill about 320 people a year, injure another 830 and damage more than 24,000 homes.
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In all cases, call a qualified electrician as soon as possible to schedule an inspection and repairs.
Hes an electrical engineer, so he knows what hes doing. He also knows why its important to have solid electrical connections. He works for an insurance company and has seen the tragic results of poor connections: fire.
The light is in a series of under-counter lights, and the other lights in the series came on with a flip of the switch. So, like any well-trained electrician would do, I jiggled the wire lead into the light fixture.