COMMON CAUSES OF ELECTRICAL FIRES IN HOMES

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Despite the number of fires in the UK decreasing, the number of electrical fires continues to rise. Because of modern day technology, electronics surround our everyday needs and is now fully ingrained in our lives whether it’s at home or in the workplace.

Whether you own or rent your home, it's important to know the signs of a potential electrical problem. Look out for scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason. These could all be signs of loose or dangerous wiring. If in doubt get them checked by a qualified electrician – you are within your rights to ask this of your landlord if you are a tenant. 

Protect your Home From Electrical Fires

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It’s the time of year when the majority of electrical fires occur due to an increased number of heating appliances in homes and plug sockets being overloaded to accommodate Christmas lights.

Electrical fires happen because of problems in house wiring or appliance failures, but many occur due to mistakes that homeowners make like overloading electrical sockets or extension leads.

Here are the five most common causes of electrical fires in homes:

1. Faulty Sockets / Appliances

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Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical plug sockets and dated appliances that have been around for a while.

Don’t use an appliance with a worn cord which could send heat onto combustible surfaces like floors, curtains, and rugs that can start a fire. 

A common cause of electrical fires is faulty electrical outlets and old, dated appliances. It is important to get large appliances serviced as frequently as recommended by the manufacturer. Appliances that have worn and damaged cords should not be used as they can send heat onto surrounding surfaces like curtains and rugs.

2. Light Fixtures & Fittings

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Lamps, light bulbs, and light fixtures and fittings are another common reason for electrical fires. 

Installing a bulb with a wattage too high for the lamps and light fixtures is a leading cause of electrical fires. 

Check the maximum recommended bulb wattage on any lighting fixture or lamp and never exceed this amount. 

3. Extension Leads

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Appliances should be plugged directly into outlets and not plugged into an extension lead for any length of time.

Only use extension cords as a temporary measure. If you do not have the appropriate type of plug sockets for your appliances, get an electrician into your home to install new ones – a much safer alternative.

Extension cables can be a really useful tool but misuse can lead to electrical fires. Extension cables should only be used for temporary periods of time, but it is common for them to be left for long periods of time.

Only ever use one extension lead per socket. If you find yourself always using extension cords, hire an electrician to install new plug sockets.

4. Portable Heaters

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Many times people put these types of heaters too close to combustible surfaces such as curtains, beds, clothing, chairs, sofas and rugs. 

Coil space heaters are especially dangerous due to the coils becoming so hot that they will almost instantly ignite any nearby flammable surface.

If you do use portable heaters, use the radiator-type that diffuse heat over the entire surface of the appliance.

5.Outdated Wiring Systems

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If a home is over 20 years old, it may not have the wiring capacity to handle the increased amounts of electrical appliances in today’s average UK home, such as computers,  televisions, games consoles, kitchen gadgets etc. 

Breakers should be triggered when circuits get overloaded by too much electricity, but outdated breaker boxes often have worn connectors that do not work, causing the system to overload and start an electrical fire.

It is important for homeowners and businesses to make sure their wiring is safe. Depending on the building, electrical inspections should take place on different timescales.

Older buildings may not have the wiring capacity to handle the increased amounts of electrical appliances used in today’s average home, so it is vital for the wiring in older buildings to be updated.

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If you can run through this list and be happy that everyone has been considered or actioned, then you’ve given your home the best chance against fire.

Accidents happen but usually an accident is penned down to wiring neglect or appliance failure that’s too near combustible material.

Your local fire and rescue service will be able to help and potentially conduct a home fire risk assessment. For more information, visit Property Contractors 247.

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