For many homeowners, a fire deals a devastating blow, leaving behind a trail of structural and emotional upheaval. Blazes can occur seemingly out of nowhere and without warning when related to faulty wiring or other electrical problems. This makes your home’s circuitry a particularly inconspicuous fire threat, especially when a homeowner does not know what to look for in terms of warning signs.
According to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services of Ontario, residential fires account for 74 percent of structure fire losses, and electrical wiring is the second leading ignition source. It’s clear these disasters wreak havoc on families, but many are particularly avoidable if the homeowner had known when to contact an electrician.
Faulty and Outdated Wiring
Faulty wiring is considered to be the number one cause of electrical fires in Canada. According to experts, old wiring, poor workmanship and ignoring maintenance are the common causes of residential fires. If your home is 15 years or older, a licensed electrical contractor should check it for code compliance, knob and tube wiring, and aluminum wiring mixed with copper.
Several warning signs indicate old or faulty wiring, and homeowners are advised never to ignore them. When a circuit breaker trips or goes off, this is to protect the circuit from overheating or other damage, possibly indicating a fire hazard. The three culprits for a circuit breaker tripping include ground fault, short circuit, and overloaded circuit. A short circuit is possibly the most dangerous of the three. It happens when hot wires touch each other. An intense level of heat can develop, putting your home at risk of a fire.
Homeowners are also urged not to carry out their own electrical work as counterfeit electrical products pose an added risk. Professionals will know only to use legitimate and CSA approved products that have properly been tested.
Increased Extension Cord Usage
Many believe extension cords are a godsend when extra room is required for electrical devices, and they normally are. The problem arises when users rely on these extension cords for too long or use too many devices, ultimately causing the extension cord to overheat.
If you use an extension cord, make sure it’s only temporary. A safer, more permanent solution is to ask an electrician to install more electrical outlets in your home. If you’re reliant on these cords, make sure you monitor them daily. Check for signs of visual wear and keep them unplugged when not in use. Also keep an eye out for signs that your cords may be heating up. Otherwise, it may be overloading without you even knowing it.
As a homeowner, you never know when a fire might spread, but you can do your best to prevent them by taking proactive measures when maintaining your home’s electrical system. Always let qualified electricians in Toronto inspect your electrical wiring if you detect any warning signs, including smoke, excessive heat, loose connections, and frayed wires.
Electrical Fires, nfpa.org
Household Extension Cords can Cause Fires, cpsc.org