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8 Household Electrical Hazards That Make Electricians Cringe

Electricity is one of modern life's most wonderful conveniences. However, if not handled safely, your home's wires, cords, and appliances pose multiple safety hazards that can result in fatal accidents and devastating property damage. Keep your loved ones safe and your home intact by avoiding these typical electrical hazards found in many American homes.

TOP ELECTRICAL HAZARDS IN HOMES

1. Damaged Electrical Cords and Wires

Electrical cords and wires become dangerous as soon as the metal inside becomes exposed. That metal conducts electricity, and touching it can result in anything from a small shock to severe electrocution. Exposed wires can also contribute to electrical fires, as was the case recently with a frayed cellphone charger. Chords tend to fray with age or misuse, and sometimes objects can puncture through their insulation, like the edge of a chair leg.

Because wires tend to be out of sight, they’re more susceptible to pest damage, particularly from chewing rodents, like rats and mice. Outdated wiring can also overheat, melt, and corrode.

2. Extension Cords Plugged Into Extension Cords or Power Strips

For safety reasons, extension cords should only be for temporary uses. Even under those circumstances, an extension cord should only be connected to an outlet or HARD-WIRED power strip in a wall. Plugging an extension cord into a standard, loose power strip (or vice versa) can cause an electrical fire. Likewise, plugging an extension cord into another extension cord (aka. “daisy-chaining cords”) also creates the risk of a fire.

3. Indoor Extension Cords Used Outdoors

Not all extension cords are made the same. An indoor-only extension cord doesn't have the necessary features to keep you safe while using it outdoors. Also, before plugging anything in, you should make sure that the extension cord won't exceed the power needs of the equipment you want to connect to it.

4. Overloaded Outlets

When you plug too many appliances into a single outlet (using something like a multi-outlet converter), this can draw too much power to that one outlet--in other words, overload the outlet. When that happens, it dramatically increases the risk of an electrical fire.

The worst part is that if a fire occurs, it will likely start behind your walls where you cannot access it to put it out right away with an extinguisher. If you find that you consistently need to plug multiple items into one outlet, it's much safer to simply hire an electrician to install additional outlets for you in more convenient locations.

5. High-Powered Appliances Plugged Into Power Strips

Power strips and surge protectors are only safe to use with electronics with low-power loads. Examples include things like cellphones, tablets, computers, and AV equipment. Any appliances or electrical equipment beyond that can start a fire. Even appliances that are smaller in size, like toasters, coffee pots, and blenders, draw too much power to be safely used with a power strip.

6. Outlets and Appliances Too Close To Water

Water conducts electricity, which is why it’s incredibly dangerous to handle light switches and plugged-in appliances with wet hands. Handling appliances and outlets that are close to water also increases your risk of being electrocuted. Protect yourself and your family by installing GFCI outlets in all areas required by the National Electrical Code. These special outlets contain sensors that detect when there’s a variation in the normal electrical current and shut off before you can receive a shock that long enough to severely injure or kill you.

7. Light Bulbs With the Wrong Wattage

Always, always check your light fixture to see what bulb wattage it specifies. Light bulbs, particularly incandescent bulbs, can get extremely hot. If you install a bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture can handle, the socket holding the bulbs can get hot enough to melt and start a fire.

8. Outdated Wiring

If your home’s wiring is old, it may be deteriorating. Aluminum wiring (installed in many homes in the 1960s and early 1970s) poses an especially high risk of electrical fires because of the way its connections loosen up as time passes. Because a lot your wiring is hidden behind walls, watch for these telltale signs that something is wrong:

  • Your lights frequently flicker or go dim.

  • Your circuit breaker trips regularly.

  • Your home has discolored switch plates and outlets that feel warm when you touch them.

  • You detect a burning smell.

  • Your home has only two-pronged outlets (which means they’re ungrounded).

  • Your home lacks GFCI outlets in the required places.

BOTTOM LINE

Electrical hazards are real, prevalent, and should not be ignored. According to a report published by the National Fire Protection Association in 2019, home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction from 2012-2016 caused:

  • an estimated average of 440 civilian deaths annually

  • 1,250 civilian injuries annually

  • an estimated $1.3 billion in direct property damage annually

If you suspect that your home contains an electrical hazard for which you need professional assistance, please don’t wait to contact a certified electrician to help you make your home safer.

At CMC Electric, your safety is our top priority, which is why all our services include a free safety inspection. With our electrical services, home protection plan, and lifetime warranty on parts and labor, we ensure that you’re taken care of day and night.

For reliable electrical services in Raleigh, give us a call today at (919) 694-4454 or use our online form!

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