Home Electrical Safety Tips
You power your home with energy, but do you know electrical safety? The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 31,000 home electrical fires occur every year, and with over 180 cases involving electrocution or electricity-related incidents that could have been avoided, home electrical safety is too important to ignore. At Constellation, we care about the safety of our customers, and by following these electrical safety tips you can protect your home and your family
What causes electrical fires in homes?
The National Fire Protection Association notes that faulty or damaged wiring and related electrical equipment cause 69 percent of electrical fires, followed by lamps, light fixtures, cords, plugs, transformers and other power supplies. When looking for potential fire hazards in your home, always be sure to consult with a professional.
Check that you’re using the correct wattage in all your fixtures and appliances.
Using the right bulbs can prevent electrical problems, so check all lamps, fixtures and appliances to ensure you’re using the correct wattage. If a light fixture has no wattage listed, use 60-watt bulbs or less. For unmarked ceiling fixtures, choose 25-watt bulbs.
Watch out for overloaded outlets to protect your home.
Overloading an electrical outlet is a common cause of electrical problems. Check all outlets to ensure they are cool to the touch, have protective faceplates and are in proper working order.
Replace or repair damaged electrical cords to keep your home safe.
Damaged power cords are a serious residential electrical safety risk, and they are capable of causing both fires and electrocution. All power and extension cords should be checked regularly for signs of fraying and cracking, and they should then be repaired or replaced as needed. Power cords should not be stapled into place or run under rugs and furniture. Cords under rugs pose a tripping hazard and can overheat, while furniture can crush cord insulation and damage wires
Buying A New Home
There were nearly 2.5 million residential sales in the UK in 2014-15. However, research carried out by Electrical Safety First found that only 37% of buyers had the electrics checked before purchase. One in five believed that electrical checks were included in the recommended home survey report and just under half were unaware that checks were needed at all
Over a third of home buyers then went on to discover electrical problems that they were not aware of before purchase – something that could easily be avoided by getting a registered electrician to inspect the electrics and issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report.
Make sure you know what you can afford – Speak to the bank first. It’s easy to get carried away looking for that dream property but make sure you can afford it first by getting an ‘Agreement in Principle’ from your bank
Check out the neighbourhood – Make sure you investigate where you are buying thoroughly, you can find out crime levels to school results simply by punching in the postcode but nothing beats visiting the neighbourhood on foot to get a feel for the area
Budget, budget, budget – there are lots of additional costs a first time buyer might not be aware of such as legal fees, stamp duty, surveys and other technical reports such as an Electrical Installation Condition Report. Don’t get tripped up by not being prepared!
Electrical Safety at Home Checklist
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2010 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 46,500 house fires that were caused by electrical malfunction of failure. From 2005-2009, 49% of those home electrical fires involved lighting or electrical distribution equipment; another 46% were attributed to other known types of equipment, including stove ranges, washers, dryers, space heaters, and fans.
You already practice fire safety, but fire prevention is the best way to protect your family – and that starts with ensuring that your electrical systems and appliances are functioning properly and safely. Run through this checklist regularly, since electrical malfunction can happen at any time and for many reasons.
Cords & Plugs
▢ Check all cords, plugs, surge protectors and extension cords for frayed casing, exposed wire or broken components. Replace immediately.
▢ Never run extension cords under carpets or over door thresholds.
▢ Don’t use an extension cord as a permanent fixture. If you need additional outlets, contact a licensed electrician to install some wherever you require.
▢ Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging a device into the outlet.
▢ Do not overload one outlet with several high-wattage or heat-producing devices, for example a space heater or coffee maker.
▢ Plugs should fit snugly into outlets. If yours do not, contact a licensed electrician.
▢ Major appliances – washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners, hot water heaters, etc. – should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Do not use surge protectors, plug strips or extension cords.
▢ Only use water resistant extension cords in damp areas (like the basement)
▢ Only use lightbulbs at or below the maximum wattage listed on your lamp or light. (There will be a sticker on the appliance indicating max wattage.)
▢ Always place lamps on a flat, level surface and at least a foot from anything flammable (e.g. curtains).
▢ Place heat-producing appliances (toaster, heater, coffee maker, etc.) away from flammable or combustible goods (potholders, paper napkins, etc.)
▢ Unplug kitchen countertop and bathroom (e.g. toaster or hair dryer) appliances when not in use.
▢ Keep your kitchen exhaust fan clean and free of grease, lint and other obstructions.
▢ Never use a portable heater in the bathroom. The only safe options are a ceiling unit or strip heater placed up high.
▢ If you use portable or space heaters, be sure they receive a seal of approval from a nationally-recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) like UL, ETL, or CSA.
Electrical Safety Tips Homeowners Should Know
I often wonder what they would have thought of microwaves, entertainment centers, dishwashers and the armies of other gadgets we take for granted on a daily basis. But your home’s electrical system may have a few things going on that might shock you too. Enlighten yourself with these tips that can help you be a more aware homeowner and may alert you to dangerous electrical problems that need to be fixed by a licensed residential electrician.
Throw your home a birthday party
For electrical safety reasons, it’s good to know how old your home is and to celebrate its birthday with an electrical safety inspection. Older homes weren’t built to handle the electrical load our contemporary lives carry. Knowing whether your home’s electrical system has been updated to safely handle all the electrical current your family uses is imperative
Know your electric panel
Even as recently as the 1990s, faulty electrical panels were being installed in many new homes. Certain brands, including Federal Pacific, ITE Pushmatic, Zinsco and GTE/Sylvania, are no longer manufactured and pose electrical hazards that could lead to a fire. Your electric panel should never feel hot to the touch
Understand the breakers
These guys are your friends, even though you may find their interference irritating when they trip. They’re trying to tell you something, and it’s usually that you have too many appliances or gadgets connected to the same circuit. Reconfigure your appliances, and if the breakers keep tripping, get help from an electrician
Make friends with your fire extinguisher
The only safe way to extinguish an electrical fire is with a fire-retardant chemical fire extinguisher. Never use water; it conducts electricity. Keep fire extinguishers on each level of your home, and know how to use them and when to replace them.
Professional Electrical Safety Inspections Done Right
To avoid electrical related accidents, it’s always best to undergo electrical safety inspections. You don’t want to risk the lives of your loved ones, nor do you want to risk losing all of your possessions and valuables to an electrical fire. Everything can have an impact on your home’s electrical circuit including age, usage, and the installation of newer electrical devices. When buying, selling, or even just for your peace of mind, it’s important to have an electrical safety inspection done.
There are a few important things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to your household and electricity usage. In order to protect your family and loved ones it is in your best interest to know and understand your homes electrical panel. You need to know which fuse or switch on your panel controls the corresponding light or outlet. If you have any doubt with regards to your homes safety, have a licensed professional come to your home to conduct the necessary and relevant checks.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the standard code that all licensed electricians must adhere to in order to meet state and local regulations with regards to electrical safety standards. Remember, each state has its own specific rules and regulations regarding electrical codes. You need an electrician who is licensed to work in your specific state. It is illegal for any person to do an electrical installation if they are not state licensed. Licensed electricians need a minimum of 14 hours approved continuing education to ensure that they understand all code regulations and are up to date on any changes that may have occurred.
General Electrical Safety Checklist:
Are all light fixtures working and have diffusers been installed?
Are the cords in good condition without signs of deterioration, bends, or wear and tear?
Are extension cords being used in place of permanent wiring?
Are all appliances grounded?
Check the wiring methods and ensure that they are suitable for the current use.
Ensure that all conductors of a circuit are grouped together.
Check for wet and damp locations and the suitability of boxes and fittings in that area.
Check wiring and bending space in cabinets and boxes.
Ensure that any switches in wet or damp locations are properly installed in weatherproof enclosures.
Ensure that the household is compliant with branch-circuit voltage limitations.
Check what grounding electrodes are present on the premises.