Regardless of the type of repair you’re conducting, it’s important to take precautions to avoid an electrical fire. This can save your home and the people who live there from potential injury or death.
A common cause of electrical fires is overloaded circuits. This happens when too many electronics are plugged into a circuit at one time.
1. Check the Outlets
Whether you’re installing new outlets or making repairs, it’s important to check them for fire hazard. This is especially important if you have children or live in an older home with original electrical wiring.
Older outlet outlets can be prone to electrical fires because they aren’t grounded correctly. As time goes on, this causes sparks to form that quickly ignite the wall and materials surrounding it.
If you see or hear sparks, it’s best to call a licensed electrician immediately. They can help you determine the cause of the sparks and repair them to prevent them from causing an electrical fire.
Inspect your outlets for damage, dents, and cracks. These blemishes are often a sign that the outlet has been damaged or is in need of replacement.
Another sign that an outlet is faulty is if it’s hot when you plug in a device. This is usually a sign that the outlet is struggling to keep electricity flowing through it, and you should try to relocate your devices to different outlets until it’s fixed.
The next step is to check the outlet’s voltage using a multimeter. You will need two leads: one red and one black. Place the red lead in the smaller slot on the outlet and the black lead in the larger slot.
You should see 110-120 volts on the meter. If you do not, it’s likely that the outlet is not properly grounded or that the circuit breaker has been tripped. If you find that the outlet is not properly grounded, call an electrician to fix it. This will not only save you money in the long run, but it will also ensure that your home is safe from potential electrical fires.
2. Check the Wiring
If you’re doing repairs on a home or other structure, you should always check the wiring before starting work. By doing this, you can identify any wiring issues before they start a fire. This can help prevent serious injuries and property damage.
One of the most common electrical problems is frayed, cracked or loose wires. These can cause sparks to ignite or short circuit and potentially burn down your house. This is especially true for older wiring.
To check for fraying, cracked or loose wires, look at your wall plates and outlets. If you notice any discoloration, scorch marks or other signs that wiring is damaged, replace them immediately.
Another important thing to check is the breaker panel. It’s important to make sure that the box is clean and rust-free and that it has a grounding bracket to prevent electricity from being drawn through the wires.
Also, you should inspect the panel for any insulation that may be coming off of wires and exposing them. Insulation is necessary to keep electricity from leaking through the wires and damaging your home, but if you find it coming off, then that is definitely something to look into.
If you do find an issue with your wiring, it’s best to call in a licensed electrician for repair or replacement. A good electrician will know how to properly inspect your wires and ensure they are safe for use.
You should also look for buzzing noises and a burning smell in your walls. These are some of the most common signs that a home’s wiring needs to be replaced. Having the home’s wiring checked by a professional is one of the most important things you can do to protect your family and your property.
3. Check the Plugs
One of the easiest ways to get a glimpse into what’s happening inside a car’s engine is by looking at its spark plugs. These are a crucial part of the ignition system that creates a bolt of electricity across a small gap to ignite the fuel and air mixture that gets your vehicle running.
However, they can go bad or get damaged over time and need to be replaced as soon as possible. A faulty spark plug can lead to a dead engine or malfunctioning components.
Inspect the plugs for any obvious signs of wear or damage that may indicate that they need to be replaced. For example, if the plug tip or side electrode is blackened it means that the plug has been firing too hot and the resulting combustion process has burned away the fuel in the air/fuel mixture.
Another sign that your spark plugs need to be replaced is if they’re showing any signs of corrosion or oil buildup on their shell, insulator, or gaskets. This is a result of poor quality gasoline that has additives that can damage these parts.
Alternatively, oil-soaked plugs are often the result of piston ring or valve guide/seal wear that prevents the plug from firing enough to clean off these deposits. This isn’t an emergency condition, but it does suggest that you should contact a mechanic as soon as possible.
If you’re doing a repair job on your own, make sure you use a spark plug tray to keep the plugs from rolling around during the operation. Tempest recommends that you also use a resistance test to check the plugs for any damage that might have occurred during the removal process.
4. Check the Outlet Covers
Electrical outlet covers encase the wiring in a wall box and are an important part of electrical safety. They should be fastened securely and should be checked regularly. If they are cracked, loose or corroded you should replace them.
Covers can be made of a wide range of materials, from ceramic to metal. The type of cover you choose depends on your needs, but it should be attractive to look at and match the rest of the room’s decor.
If your outlet’s plastic faces are cracked it can be a serious fire hazard. Cracking can occur even when a screw holding wiring isn’t damaged. It can cause the plastic around the outlet to overheat, melt and lead to an electrical fire.
A burning smell or black charred marks on the outlet is another indicator that it’s in danger. It’s best to turn off the power immediately and call an electrician for further inspection.
It’s also a good idea to check the outlet covers around your outlets and switches. They should be sealed to reduce air leaks. This can be done using a foam gasket or caulk.
In homes with young children it’s always a good idea to get tamper resistant outlet covers that will deactivate the outlet when foreign objects are inserted. You can find these at most home improvement stores.
You should also check for a leaking outlet cover, especially on exterior outlets that are exposed to rain and moisture. They should be covered with a GFCI-protected weather cover that will trip when an electrical appliance is plugged into the outlet.
5. Check the Switches
One of the most important parts of your home’s electrical system is the switch. It controls wall receptacles, light fixtures and hard-wired appliances.
Old and faulty switches can cause house fires, so they should be replaced as soon as possible. Inspect your switches regularly to check for signs of wear and tear, such as a hissing sound when you turn a switch on or lights that flicker frequently or change color.
If you are unsure of the condition of your switch, contact a licensed electrician to make an inspection. The technician may recommend replacing it if it is faulty or worn out.
Many house fires happen as a result of overloading an outlet. Ideally, you should only use a single appliance in a particular outlet. If you have multiple devices that need to be plugged into the same outlet, use a surge protector to protect your devices from excessive power.
Another potential source of electrical fires is a broken or frayed power cord. A kinked or deformed cord can produce more heat than it should, which can melt the insulation on the wire.
You can also prevent electrical fires by making sure that your outlets are well-connected to each other. If you have several large appliances that are connected to the same outlet, consider adding more outlets to accommodate them.
The wiring in your home’s electrical system should also be checked periodically for damage or deterioration. Knob-and-tube wiring, aluminum wiring and 60-amp electrical systems (which are common in older homes) tend to have a higher risk of overheating, so it’s a good idea to update them as soon as possible.
Finally, a tripped breaker or blown fuse can also lead to an electrical fire, so it’s worth checking those as well. If they’re tripped or blown, reset them, then replace the fuse.