Each year, thousands of homes in the United States are engulfed in fires triggered by faulty electrical wiring. In Home Electrical Fires, a report by the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Analysis and Research Division published in May 2010, an average of 22,000 home fires between 2003 and 2007 involved electrical distribution (e.g., wiring and related equipment, transformers, power supplies) or lighting equipment (e.g., lamps, light fixtures, light bulbs, cords, plugs). The fires caused over $700 million in direct damages, 350 deaths, and 880 injuries. According to the report, 72% of the fires were caused by some type of electrical failure or malfunction. Most home fires are preventable; homeowners just have to take the time to keep their home’s electrical wiring properly maintained.
Often, electricity-related home fires happen not because homeowners are purposely careless about the maintenance of their home. Many of them are in fact quite responsible in the best way they know how; they just don’t have adequate information when it comes to home electrical wiring safety. When it comes to basement electrical wiring, for instance, not many homeowners realize that keeping their basements clean and free of pests is just as important as making sure the wires are all properly connected at all times.
Even though the wire connections are perfectly installed, the rats, insects, and other pests you may unknowingly be housing in your basement can easily wreak havoc on your electrical wiring, considerably increasing the risk of electricity-related fires in your home. And if you live in an older home, it is important that you check the fuse boxes and the circuit breakers on a regular basis. Even better, consider having the earlier models of these components replaced with modern ones that are better equipped to handle the higher voltages used in today’s appliances.
Ideally, your home’s electrical wiring should be checked every three years to make sure they are in good condition and that they are still perfectly capable of providing the electricity needed for the growing number of appliances you have in your home. This sounds simple enough but the shocking truth is that the average American homeowner has not had his electrical wiring checked for at least 20 years (source: National Fire Protection Association). This is one reason there are so many cases of electricity-related home fires in the United States.
One other reason the incidence of house fires caused by faulty wiring is so high is that many homeowners choose to install and repair their own electrical wiring instead of hiring a professional to do the job. While this decision helps them save money initially, it puts their home and their families in much greater risk of accidents later on. It is best to leave the job of electrical wiring installation and repairs to the professionals as much as possible.
Here’s the good news: Most electricity-related fires can be easily avoided by following a few simple preventive measures. For instance, you should always be watchful of electric hazards around your home. When a fuse box melts or when a plug produces sparks when you try to plug it in to the wall socket, call an electrician right away. Unless you are a qualified electrician yourself, you should never try to tinker with your home’s electrical wiring; your noble efforts might cause even more damage than good. Hiring a professional to do the job will cost you a few extra bucks, but this expense is worth the added protection you can give to your home and your family in the long run.