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How to Prevent Home Electrical Fires

The kids are finally asleep. Laying in bed, you and your wife agree on a show to stream from Netflix, something good that you both like. The covers wrapped around you, all is right with the world.  You feel yourself drifting off to a warm and peaceful sleep.

You can’t know that the wires running into your old fusebox smolder and burst into flames. In that moment, it’s too late to do anything. All you can do is pray that everyone, your children and pets, make it out alive.

Every year, 40,000 homes burn to the ground from electrical fires. Even worse, 500 Americans die each year in those fires. If you ignore your electrical system, your home could be next.

40,000 homes every year.
40,000 homes every year.

Read on to learn about this residential hazard and how Mister Sparky can eliminate it.

Danger of Electrical Fires

Electricity is a powerful tool.  It cooks our food, lights our homes, and protects us from the elements. However, ignoring it can lead to tragedy.

The leading causes of electrical fires:

  • Outdated Fuseboxes
  • Faulty Electrical Panels
  • Damaged Wiring

Fuse Boxes and Electrical Circuit Breaker Panels

Fuseboxes and electrical panels have the same purpose. Both devices direct electricity to circuits throughout the house and shut down when electricity reaches levels that could start a fire.

Simply speaking, electrical panels are an updated version of the fusebox. A circuit breaker allows power to be restored by flipping a switch, whereas a fusebox requires the destroyed fuse to be manually replaced.

If these devices fail to restrict power, the excessive heat created can ignite into a raging electrical fire. Imagine your peaceful Saturday night turning into an unwanted remake of the 1974 classic The Towering Inferno.

Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Faye Dunaway won’t be there, though.
Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Faye Dunaway won’t be there, though.

Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Faye Dunaway won’t be there, though.

Outdated Fuseboxes still Hanging Around

Old appliances become less reliable over time. An outdated fusebox is less likely to do its job of keeping your family safe. Have questions about if you can trust your fusebox? Call Mister Sparky.

The typical outdated fusebox can accommodate no more than 60 amps of electricity, however, most homeowners need more power. Think about how many labor-saving, electricity-guzzling appliances were invented in the last fifty years.

They didn't have cell phones or the PS4 when this fusebox was installed.
They didn’t have cell phones or the PS4
when this fusebox was installed.

Enter: a Fire Hazard

Need more power? Calling a professional to upgrade the fusebox or old panel remains your only safe option. Some risky DIYers, however, choose to install 20 amp or 30 amp fuses in place of the 15 amp fuse. With the bigger fuses in place, you can get more electricity, likely 80 or 120 amps, through your fusebox without it tripping offline.

You buy that power at potentially a dangerous price: a massive fire hazard.

The wires, in particular, cannot handle that level of electricity flowing through them — they can overheat and eventually burst into flame. Since electrical hubs are often stored in out of the way places, you might not notice the devastating electrical fire until your house is ablaze and your life is in danger.

Notoriously Bad Panels

If you know for a fact that you have a Zinsco Electrical Panel or a Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® Circuit Breaker in your home, stop reading and call us now!

Leading home electrical products in the 1970’s, Zinsco panels and Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® Circuit Breaker are notorious among modern electricians as fire hazards. If you live in a house built during that era, one could be lurking in your circuit box, threatening your family and home.

Like Disco, Zinsco Panels should go away and never come back
Like Disco, Zinsco Panels
should go away and never come back

What’s Wrong With a Zinsco Panel

In short, Zinsco panels often fail to trip offline because of a design flaw in which conducting bars become detached. With the power unable to be knocked offline, the electricity only stops flowing when the wires burned into nothing — possibly along with your home and possessions.

Watch a Zinsco panel catch fire.

FPE Stab-Lok Circuit Breaker Panels

Like Zinsco panels, FPE Stab-Lok panels endanger homes because of their failure to trip offline. One study revealed that up to 60% of FPE Stab-Lok panels did not trip when necessary.

If you have a house built in the 1970’s or 1980’s, you need to call Mister Sparky to check for and replace either of these two pyromaniac electrical devices.

Ignoring known culprits like either of those products puts your home and family in jeopardy.

Electrical Wiring Danger

Just like faulty fuseboxes and breaker panels, the wires that carry the actual electricity can start fires. Electrical wiring is not designed to last forever, meaning that periodic replacement and upgrade is necessary to keep your system at its safest.

Copper is hip right now, and for good reason.
Copper is hip right now, and for good reason.

Frayed or torn wiring can throw sparks when in use, for example. In addition, any outdated wiring carries the risk to overheat.

Newer is safer, when it comes to your home electrical wiring. Copper wire is significantly less likely to overheat than the fallen out-of-popularity aluminum wiring.

Even the charger cord for your beloved cell phone could betray you. Appliance cords that are tattered possess the same risk to spark or overheat as electrical wires. When laying across something flammable like newspaper or carpet, a damaged wire can start a fire — in any room of your house.

What’s Next?

The next step is a conversation and an inspection. Sometimes dangerous electrical components look downright nasty. Sometimes, though, a fire waiting to happen can be hiding in plain sight. Lurking in your garage or basement.

Don’t become a statistic. Don’t let your home become one of the 40,000 that burn down every year.

Whether it’s a fusebox, breaker panels, or old wires, a quick inspection could save your house or your life. The friendly and knowledgeable technicians at Mister Sparky can keep you and your family safe.

Contact Us to talk about how to keep your electrical system in a safe condition.

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