The electrical elements of a home have the potential to be extremely dangerous, and it might be easy for a homeowner to ignore basic safety. More obvious problems with a home might take precedence, like mold or a collapsing roof, but the electrical system should not be forgotten.
Qualified home inspection services can help determine if there are any dangerous conditions, but in addition to hiring a professional to check out their residences, homeowners should keep an eye on several areas of their homes regularly to ensure safety.
Home electrical safety tips
A great tip is to never force electricity to work, and to pay attention to the breaker, according to Popular Mechanics. One of the most useful parts of a home, the breaker is there to prevent hazards. If a homeowner ignores it, and continues to try to get an outlet to work, that could increase the risk of starting an electrical fire. A breaker that trips after being reset signals an electrical problem, and constantly flipping it back on could only make matters worse. If there is a frequent problem, consult an electrician, or have a building inspection done to determine the source of the electrical fault. A fire can be the direct result of ignoring a breaker.
If one does occur, it can be extremely dangerous for a homeowner to attempt to extinguish it. If there is any doubt about the severity of a fire, leave the home immediately and call the fire department. Using water to put out an electrical fire is never recommended, since it is conductive. A fire extinguisher is the safe option.
Another sign of a possible problem with a home's electricity is a flickering light. It might not be the light bulb, but instead loose wiring in the wall or ceiling, Popular Mechanics stated. Another potential cause of a fire, this problem should be fixed immediately. Cut power to the affected area, and then call in a home inspection to determine the fault. Another possible location for bad wiring is behind outlets. If one is warm to the touch, that could mean a bad connection. Poor wiring and bad splices are the common culprits.
Areas of the home to check
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable heating equipment might also be a safety hazard, in addition to bad outlets and lights. All space heaters and similar electronics should be kept a safe distance away from furniture and curtains. Most have instructions for proper use, and these should be followed at all times. If everything isn't in working order, replace it promptly.
The CPSC also recommends watching adapters. If any are inserted in an outlet without proper grounding, it could be risky. Many owners of old homes are faced with the problem of a three prong cord and a two prong outlet, so adapters are common. Any other electrical and extension cords should be regularly checked, too. Frayed or damaged wires are a safety hazard, and they should be replaced. If a piece of furniture covers one of these, move it. Heavy weight can damage insulation and tear cords altogether.
Appliances are another area of concern. Most homeowners keep counter-top appliances plugged in at all times, but this can create an unnecessary risk of fire. Move any cords that come across hot surfaces, like a stove top. If a part of the home's electrical system gives a slight shock, have it checked immediately. A property inspection can help figure out what are the risky areas and what needs to be fixed.