The 4 most common causes of home electrical fires and how to avoid them

October 24, 2014

You can easily avoid the most common causes of home electrical fires by being aware of the main hazards and handling them carefully.

The 4 most common causes of home electrical fires and how to avoid them

1. Faulty wiring

Old, damaged or inadequate wiring is the leading cause of electrical fires in Canadian homes.

  • It is often an issue in older homes, but even having a new home does not guarantee your wiring is in perfect working order.
  • Everything in a house wears out eventually, including wiring.

Watch for warning signs, such as:

  • Fuses blowing and circuits overloading frequently
  • Lights that dim when something else is turned on
  • Multiple extension cables branching off one outlet

If you suspect a problem, get a professional to inspect your wiring.

  • Once they have made any necessary repairs and given your home the all-clear, ask them to come back to audit your wiring once every four years.

2. Unattended cooking

Pots and pans splattering grease that catches fire is a major cause of electrical fires in homes.

  • Never leave your cooking unattended.
  • Make sure the area around the stove is clear of curtains, paper towels, tea towels and anything that can catch fire.

3. Heat sources

Heaters are another home electrical fire hazard to be aware of.

  • Keep a clear space of at least one metre around any heater that's in use.
  • Don't use your heater to dry laundry or wet shoes as items left on the heater can catch fire.

4. Appliances

Appliances overheating are a fire risk many people don't think about.

  • Check your plugs and cables for fraying or other damage regularly, and make sure you're not overloading power boxes with too many appliances at one time.
  • Don't cover electrical cables or plugs with heavy items such as rugs or furniture that could trap heat and catch fire when the cables overheat.

*Doing your own electrical writing is not only dangerous but may even be illegal in some provinces, such as Québec. The solution: consider hiring a master electrician.

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