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10 Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

10 Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

A fire in any type of property can be an incredibly distressing experience for anybody to go through, and such a thing can be devastating financially, physically and emotionally. Some fires are freak accidents and almost impossible to predict. However, other fire causes can be avoided by ensuring you’re staying fire-safe.

Electrical appliances, faulty wiring and overloaded circuits can lead to fires too. Regardless of whether or not it’s in a commercial, industrial or residential setting, the common causes of electrical fires are important to be aware of.

Rainbow International has all the key information you need to be aware of. The common causes of these types of fire includes:

  1. Faulty electrical sockets
  2. Too many extension leads
  3. Faulty electric heaters
  4. Faulty light features
  5. Faulty electric blankets
  6. Overloaded circuits
  7. Old or faulty wiring
  8. Inadequate/non-existent electrical conduits
  9. Other old or faulty appliances
  10. Poor maintenance

Read on to learn more.

1: Faulty Electrical Sockets

Electrical fires are most likely to be caused by a faulty electrical outlet. Over time, the wiring behind the sockets and within the outlets themselves can lead them to also no longer be properly grounded. Using these sockets can lead to a loose and dangerous connection which can then result in a fire.

To avoid this, ensure you review your electrical sockets regularly to spot any necessary repairs before a fire occurs.

2: Too Many Extension Leads

Having too many extension leads is another common cause of this type of fire. This can include having too many appliances plugged into one extension lead, which results in too much power being pushed through the single socket and going beyond its capacity.

When large numbers of appliances are plugged into extension leads this can create an excessive power load on a single socket which it may not be able to handle. Instead, to avoid an electrical fire due to extension leads, ensure that they are used temporarily rather than a permanent socket, and stick to appliances being used in singular sockets.

3: Faulty Electric Heaters

In the colder months, many will opt for an electric heater that can be moved around a building to stay warm. However, if these types of heaters are used for an extended period of time, they can become dangerous very quickly. They can overheat and can also cause an electrical fire if they’re placed too close to combustible surfaces like curtains, beds, clothing, chairs, sofas and carpets.

Use these heaters in short bursts to avoid an electrical fire or opt for a radiator-type heater that diffuses heat over the entire surface of the appliance.

4: Faulty Light Features

Faulty light features are another common cause of electrical fires. This is often seen with lamps, lightbulbs and light fittings. For example, if a bulb with a wattage that is too high is used for a long time, an electrical fire can start. They can also start an electrical fire if combustible materials are placed over a bulb such as cloth or paper.

Keep all bulbs free of excessive material and ensure their electrical input is appropriate.

5: Faulty Electric Blankets

If you have an old, low-quality or broken electric blanket, you are running the risk of an electrical fire occurring. Most electric blankets have safety features built in to avoid overheating, however, a common cause of electrical fires, the blanket can malfunction and get too hot and catch fire.

To avoid this, ensure you have an up-to-date electric blanket and thoroughly read the manual before using it to make sure you are following any required preventive measures.

6: Overloaded Circuits

Another common cause of electrical fires includes overloaded circuits. Similarly to using too many extension leads, if a circuit is exceeding the rated load for the circuit, the wiring will trip the breaker. This will then close down the entire circuit. However, if there is no breaker to close the circuit, the insulation could then melt from the overheated circuit and cause an electrical fire.

7: Old or Faulty Wiring

Older or faulty wiring can lead to an electrical fire if you’re not careful. By plugging in more modern electrical appliances and larger numbers of appliances in general, the socket can quickly become overloaded and break. This can then overload the system, cause it to overheat and then start to melt the surrounding plastic and cause a fire.

8: Inadequate/Non-Existant Electrical Conduits

One of the most common causes of many electrical fires, an inadequate or non-existent electrical conduit can quickly cause a serious issue within a building. Skipping a conduit for whatever reason can then lead to insufficient sheathing of the wires, which without, the wires can overheat and cause a fire or be wrongly wired in the first place and result in dangerous fires.

9: Other Old or Faulty Appliances

Similar to old or faulty wiring, plugging in and using an old or outdated appliance can result in an electrical fire. The older an appliance is, the less likely it is going to be up to standard regarding the wattage usage, the quality of the materials they’re made of and the safety regulations they were originally made to. Worn cords and loose connections are key signs you may need to update or quality check your appliance.

10: Poor Maintenance

Generally speaking, poor maintenance of sockets, wiring, appliances and general electrical items is one of the most common causes of electrical fires. This is due to the breakdown of insulation, and the loose connections that can cause sparking and wattage requirements being missed. Ensure that anything electrical in your property is well maintained and monitored to avoid any electrical fires.

FAQs About Electrical Fires:

Are There Warning Signs Before An Electrical Fire?

Most warning signs of electrical fires are invisible and odourless and include discolored or charred outlets and switches, a tripping circuit breaker and a persistent burning plastic smell.

What Does An Electrical Fire Smell Like?

Electrical fires are known for smelling like burning plastic and have a very acrid smell. If you smell something burning that seems like an electrical fire, you are likely nearby a serious issue regarding an electrical socket or appliance.

Can An Electrical Fire Start If Nothing Is Plugged In?

Yes. If an electrical socket is not wired correctly, well-maintained or has had an issue in the past that wasn’t correctly resolved, it can catch fire without being plugged in.

What Are The Most Likely Causes of Electrical Fires In The Workplace?

Overall, faulty electrical equipment is one of the most common causes of electrical fires in the workplace. This can easily be prevented with the appropriate PAT testing being conducted when needed and general health and safety advice and precautions being provided to employees using any electrical appliance.

Need Extra Support? Call Rainbow International Today

Electrical fires are a scary reality that many face, and they can cause serious and expensive damage. If you’ve recently been the victim of an electrical fire and you need a team of understanding specialists to restore your property back to its former glory, get in touch with Rainbow International today.

We’re experts in electrical fire damage restoration and we can support you in ensuring your property is safe for you to return to.

Published: 14 Dec 2022