Most homeowners find the thought of household fires terrifying, and with good reason. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to minimize the risk of electrical fires. Following are six strategies that will provide you and your family with some extra peace of mind:
Watch your Lighting
Nearly one-half of all electrical fires in the home are caused by problems with lighting. Always make certain that the bulbs you use comply with the recommendations of the light fixtures that you choose to use. For instance, using a stronger light bulb than a lamp is equipped to handle can damage both the socket and the wires, increasing risk of fire. Unfortunately, the damage remains even after you install an appropriate bulb. The fixture may have to be replaced, and the wiring should be repaired by a qualified electrician.
*If you use vintage light fixtures that don't contain markings indicating the proper sized bulb to use, play it safe and stick with 60 watt bulbs.
Have Enough Outlets
Older homes that were built before electric devices and appliances became such an important part of modern lifestyles sometimes don't have enough outlets to handle a normal household's electrical load, leading to the use of too many power strips and extension cords. You can limit your fire danger by
- Use only heavy-duty extension cords -- thin ones can overheat and cause fires. Use only 14-gauge cords or thicker, and remember that the gauge number decreases with the thickness of the cord.
- Have a qualified electrician install new outlets in your home.
- Try to keep the use of power strips minimal -- aim for one only per room, if that, and turn devices and appliances completely off when not in use.
It's also wise to periodically feel the walls close to your electrical outlets -- if they feel warm, you could have a dangerous wiring problem. Make an appointment with an electrician and don't use the outlet until it's been checked out and repaired.
You may also want to consider replacing two-prong outlets with three-prong outlets because most of today's new appliances have three prongs. The prong is there to properly ground any stray currents that may spark and cause household fires.
Replace Aluminum Wiring
Aluminum wiring was widely used in home and commercial construction in the 1960s through 70s because it was an inexpensive alternative to traditional copper wiring. This type of wiring is not against most municipal and county codes because it has been grandfathered in, but that doesn't make it any more safe. Aluminum corrodes quickly, and that can cause internal sparking that can lead to fire.
Cover Your Junction Box
An uncovered junction box can lead to damaged wires that can eventually begin to malfunction and spark. If you've got a standard sized junction box, you should be able to easily pick up a replacement cover at an electrical supplies store or perhaps even at a home improvement retailer. If it's an older box that was made prior to 1970, you may have a hard time finding a cover that fits. In that case, you should consider having the junction box replaced altogether. This is an easy process that a qualified electrician can handle in less than one-half hour.
Pay Attention When it's Windy
If your lights flicker on and off when it's windy outside, that's a sign that your outdoor fittings are frayed. This situation is fairly dangerous and should be remedied as quickly as possible because frayed wiring can easily spark and begin to burn, and if it occurs during a windstorm, the fire will move much more quickly than if it had started when the air was calm. Some local municipal utility companies will replace your outdoor fittings at low or no cost.
Rodent-Proof Your Home
Sealing up every possible exterior entryway is important if you want to keep your home rodent-free. Be sure to do this in early autumn before nighttime temperatures become so cold that they cause rodents to seek indoor accommodations for the winter. Rodents pose a significant fire risk because they gnaw on electrical wires.
Visit http://www.advantageelectricians.com to learn more about the safety measures an experienced electrician can help you take care of.