In the United States, more than 50,000 home fires are caused by electrical failure or malfunction each year. These unexpected blazes claim the lives of nearly 500 people and result in many more permanent injuries. The only bright spot is that many, perhaps even most, of these fires can be prevented with the help of an electrician. Here’s what to look for.

1. System Failure

Because older homes were not designed to deal with modern electrical demands, they frequently shut down when overburdened. This generally happens in one of two ways: either the circuit breakers trip or the fuses blow. Both problems are a sure sign your circuits are drawing more current than they can handle. The solution? Your electrical system must be upgraded.

2. Lights Dim And/Or Flicker

Even if your home system is up to par, it may get overstressed when appliances are used at the same time. For example, both the air conditioner and the refrigerator require an awful lot of power to keep them going. When attached to the same circuit, these machines can cause interruptions in lighting systems. The simplest solution to this common problem is to connect larger appliances to their own dedicated circuits.

3. Too Many Extension Cords

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), more than 3,000 residential fires are caused by extension cords each year. It is not that these devices are inherently dangerous, but rather how they are being used that’s the problem. You see, many homeowners don’t have enough outlets, so they overburden the ones they do have with extension cords. A simple, relatively inexpensive solution is to hire an electrician to add a few outlets. This will not only save you and your family members from tripping over cords, but it will also dramatically reduce the risk of a home fire.

4. Warm To The Touch

No matter how much juice you use, outlets, switches, and other components should not get hot or even warm. If they do, it probably means there’s too much demand on the circuit. When this happens, there’s a good chance you could get a shock from touching an outlet or switch. As you might imagine, this presents a serious safety risk to everyone who enters your home. Although an entire system upgrade or overhaul may not be needed, odds are your electrician will have to rewire certain areas.

5. Advanced Age

Some things don’t get better with age. If your home is over twenty-five years old and its electrical system has never been touched, odds are it has some serious problems. Rust, bad wiring, and antiquated circuits are the most common problems electricians find in older abodes. So even if you haven’t experienced any of the aforementioned issues, you should have your system inspected by a professional.

An experienced electrician can help bring your home system into the modern era, thereby reducing the risk of interruptions in service and more serious problems like fires.

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