Rockhill City Guide Electrical What Causes Electrical Fires? (ANSWERED)

What Causes Electrical Fires? (ANSWERED)

what causes electrical fires

The last thing you want to do is put your family in danger with a potential electrical fire. To know how to prevent them, we need to know the causes of electrical fires.

What Are the Causes of Electrical Fires?

Electrical fires happen more often than we think. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, there are an estimated 51,000 electrical fires per year that account for almost 500 deaths. These are scary numbers, especially knowing that they could have been prevented if warning signs were recognized.

By identifying the causes, it will make it easier for you to recognize them and keep your family safe. So, here they are:

Outdated Wiring:

As your house ages so does the wiring. Think about when your house was built and how many things you would have had plugged in back then. Today, we have a charger in every room, laptops, televisions, video games, sound systems, and let’s not forget all the appliances.

According to research by the National Fire Protection Association, a Faulty wiring is responsible for 31% of all electrical fires.  If your wiring is too old, it has more chance of overheating or sparking thus causing a fire. If you suspect that your house’s wiring may need upgrading, an electrician can tell you what wires are a potential hazard that need to be fixed.

Outlets and Light Switches:

When light switches and electrical outlets age, it is important to inspect them to make sure they are not a hazard. To inspect these, you need to remove the cover and check if the wires are loose. If the wires were to break, it could cause a fire.

Extension Cords:

As I mentioned before, we like to plug in a lot of stuff and our houses don’t always have enough outlets to accommodate so, we turn to extension cords. They can be very useful, but don’t forget that your outlets may not be able to output that much power.

It is important not to plug in too many things into one extension cord or block. You may have a block with five or six outlets, but it is always a best practice not to use them all. Luke Electrical (, a seasoned Adelaide electrician, suggests to their customers to never use more than one appliance on the same extension cord and to not use an extension cord that feels hot.

Portable Heaters:

Portable heaters are helpful at keeping us warm, but they can also be a potential fire danger.  They use a lot of wattage which could overload the system causing a spark that could ignite. It is important to never plug the portable heater into an extension cord.

Because of the heat they give off, portable heaters also have the potential of igniting objects around it like blankets, curtains, and sofas. Always keep such objects at least three feet away from a portable heater.

Household Appliances:

If you have newer appliances and an older house, the wattage on the new appliances could be too high for the capacity of the outlet. Newer appliances have touch screens, and fancy functions that simply need more wattage to make them work.

On the other hand, if you have older appliances there could be issues with the wiring that could cause an electrical fire. If you suspect that this may be the case, you can have outlets installed that are designed for these appliances.

To prevent a potential appliance fire from doing major damage, you should never leave the house when running appliances like the dishwasher, washer, and dryer.

Overfull or Outdated Breaker Box:

The electric panel, or breaker box is there to manage the flow of electricity in your house and not allow too much power to go through at once. If the breaker box is older, it may not function as well and could cause a fire.

When you are using an electrical outlet and it stops working, the fix is usually to flip the breaker switch and it works again. However, if this is happening often, you should probably consider what is causing the issue.

The most likely cause is that your house is unable to handle the amount of electricity you’re trying to push through. An electrician can check this out for you and tell you if you need to update your electrical panel.

Although most of the cause above relate to older homes and appliances, don’t disregard potential electrical fire hazards simply because you have a newer house with all the up-to-date appliances and electronics.

It is important for you to inspect wires, outlets, cords and appliances for potential damage that could cause an electrical fire. If you suspect that there is an issue, it is always best to consult an electrician. The safety of your home and family depends on it.