10 Aug How To Avoid House Fires In Your Home

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Today we launch the first in a new series designed to help you prevent common electrical catastrophes, with tips and advice to better protect you and your family.  In the first of the series, we look at the best ways to avoid the worst of electrical disasters: the house fire.

The Overloaded Outlet

overloaded circuitElectrical outlets are a necessity in our everyday lives, and it is not uncommon to plug multiple appliances into one along our walls. The bad thing about that is when two plugs becomes five, and five becomes eight until you end up with something like the picture featured: At any given moment, there are about 120 volts of electricity flowing through any given American home and from the looks of things, there are about 119 flowing through this one outlet.  This is a recipe for disaster.

An estimated 5300 fires are caused by overloaded outlets annually. It’s easy to look at this picture and think “that’s not me.” And you’re probably right.  But it takes a lot less than that this to overload a circuit.  But just how much does it take?

Circuit breakers and fuses protect against this by regulating against overload by regulating current.  Most circuit breakers and fuses regulate at 15 or 20 amps. You should never use more than eight percent of that total.

How do we know when we’re in range?  Figuring out how much one outlet can handle is just a matter of some basic math.  Use this formula to make a determination:

p/e = i

In simpler terms, this translates to: wattage divided by voltage equals amps.

You can figure out the wattage of each device by checking the manufacturer’s information or by simply Googling the product name and the word “wattage.”  Then total this up.

Say you’re using 2,000 watts of power with your holiday lights and other decorations. You divide that number by the volts in your house (usually 120) and you come up with 16.6 amps of current that you’re using. With a 20-amp electrical outlet, you’re using around 80 percent of the available current, which is the most you should be using per circuit.

If the math isn’t working out for your home, it may be time to install additional outlets. Call Mister Sparky Northwest Arkansas to find out more!

Fireplace Safety

fireplaces pose as a house fire riskPhysics 101, folks.  Hot air rises, ideally out of an unblocked chimney.  When you place something over the chimney, or obstruct the opening of your fireplace, the hot air will get trapped in confined spaces. First in the chimney and then your house. This can lead to a house full of smoke and more often than not, fires.

For your safety and that of your loved ones, neighbors, and the world at large, keep your chimney’s and other airways unblocked and clean.

Exposed Wiring

House fires are often caused by faulty electrical wiring. Home inspectors check electrical panels, but are not allowed to open up walls and ceilings, so problems like exposed wiring often go unnoticed. If they’re not up to code, are missing labels, or aren’t up to capacity, you will have to address the issues. Exposed, spliced or taped wires need to be fixed as soon as possible. You will need to hire an electrician for these jobs. If you see anything like the picture, contact Mister Sparky Northwest Arkansas today!

Mister Sparky Electrician NWA, America’s On-Time Electrician in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville services the Northwest Arkansas area with a team of licensed electricians. In addition to flickering lights, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, aluminum wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections.