Each year, there are over 51,000 home electrical fires. In these accidents, about 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries occur.
Electrical fires are preventable. Yet electrical failures and malfunctions continue to be the second leading cause of home fires in the United States.
To avoid becoming a part of this statistic, homeowners must practice electrical safety at home. Your home needs an electrical inspection by you to make sure that the wiring, outlets, plugs, and circuit breaker all remain in working order.
Checklist to Ensure Electrical Safety at Home
There are several different items you should have on your electrical inspection checklist. Going over these each year will go a long way in preventing a home fire.
First up for electrical safety tips is that you should check all of the outlets in your home.
Outlets should be ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protected. The outlet should have a reset and test button in the center. If you push in the test button, it should shut the outlet off. If this doesn’t work, then you know it needs replacing.
Another test to run on your outlet is with a device called a cube or block tester. The device plugs into the outlet and will display lights that indicate certain outlet wiring issues. This will keep you up-to-date on specific problems your outlet may be developing.
When an electrician is doing work, one of the first places they go is to the breaker panel. When you’re messing with electricity, one of the first electrical safety rules is to always shut off power in the breaker.
Check your breaker for signs of wear and rust. Test all the power in your home by flipping certain circuit breakers. You want to make sure that none are stuck or corroded. Either of these things could prevent them from functioning as intended.
If you have any wiring that is visible, you’ll need to do a close inspection of them. Wires that are in active use shouldn’t have any cracks, splits, or fraying.
All it takes is a single spark for wiring to catch on fire. This type of fire can spread fast as the wiring is most often right against a wall. If you notice any of your wires starting to appear worn down, you should look into replacing them as soon as possible.
If your home as any exterior outlets, these will need inspection too. Your exterior outlets should be sealed inside a container that will protect them from the elements and animal tampering.
Exterior outlets should also be GFCI protected. Be sure to run GFCI tests on them twice a year to make sure they continue to function well.
If you have an exterior outlet that requires it be in continual use, you’ll want to buy a cover with access holes. This will allow you to continue to use the outlet, while also keeping it protected from water, insects, and animals.
When doing your electrical safety check, you will also want to check the voltage of your home. If you have lights that are flickering or dimming, this should be due to low voltage in an outlet.
Use a volt meter to check the power of an outlet. A standard outlet has a 120-volt. When you do your test, you should get a voltage result of between 110 and 130 volts.
If your outlet is fine, but your lights continue to flicker, you’ll want to move on to investigating other possible causes. Sometimes, the wiring can be at fault.
Extension cords are handy when it comes to powering a device that can’t reach a standard outlet indoors. However, extension cords are not designed for prolonged use.
If you’ve been using an extension cord continuously for more than 30 days, you’ll want to do a close inspection of it. Also, extension cords are not safe to use to help power a space heater or air conditioner. They aren’t designed to handle the level of voltage required for these appliances.
Another thing you should be aware of during an electrical checkup is paying attention to any hints that can be detected by your senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing.
If you have any cords that feel hot to the touch, this is cause for concern. You should either replace the cord or investigate the outlet’s voltage.
Pay attention to whether you smell something burning, hear any crackling noises, or see sparks or smoke. Any of these indicators are dangerous and could lead to a potential fire.
It’s important that you respond fast at the first sign of any electrical problems in your home. Tending to a problem early can help prevent a catastrophe, such as a home fire breaking out.
Some of the early warning signs include:
- Sparks from an outlet
- Smoke from an electrical source
- Odd smell from an electrical source
- Breaker trips often
- Lights flickering or dimming
- Outlets randomly not working
- Light switches not working
If you notice any of these warning signs, call an electrician and ask for emergency services. Having an electrician come out to investigate these occurrences could make the difference between life or death for you. No one wants to have a fire start in their home, especially during the night when everyone is asleep.
Stay Safe With Electrical Check-Ups
It’s important for everyone to practice electrical safety at home. Home fires continue to claim lives each year. Many of these fires are due to electrical shortcircuits that could’ve been prevented with routine maintenance.
By creating an electrical safety checklist and going over it at least twice a year, you may save yourself from a devastating accident. If you’re unsure of how to fix a certain problem, don’t feel pressured to take care of it yourself. Sunrise Electric has professional, certified electricians who can safely take care of your electrical needs.
If you require the services of an electrician, contact Sunrise Electric today.