Electricity is a big part of our daily lives. It makes our lives easier, work faster, and helps keep us comfortable and even entertained.
But no matter how wonderful and beneficial electricity is, it comes with danger.
Did you know that electrical fire is one of the top causes of home fires in the US? According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), “fire caused by electrical issues accounts for more than 51k house fires and more than 500 deaths each year, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage”.
The figures stated stress the fact that electricity is dangerous and can cause huge damage to property, injury, and even death. Most likely we all know that electricity is dangerous but not all homeowners have proper safety measures in place.
People’s action and habits, and their failure to prioritize home safety are common denominators to these accidental home fires. The good news is that you can reverse the bad practices and install new ones at your home to reduce the risk of accidents.
Our trusted electricians have come up with a list of dangerous things that you should stop doing in your household:
1. First on the list is not having a licensed electrician thoroughly inspect your home
A licensed electrician will be able to spot all possible electrical issues in your home. They will be able to check that your household’s electrical work meets the safety regulation set by the government, recommend and carry out repairs or replacements, examine your breaker box, test smoke alarms, and even guide you on what you should do in terms of maintenance and proper usage of electricity.
We especially recommend this when you are buying a home. Sometimes, things may look good on the outside, but in reality, it may be laden with different electrical issues that you will experience as you move in. It could be a disaster waiting to happen, which poses a huge safety risk for your family.
In addition, it is not only testing if the light switches are working, if you are not a pro, but you could also miss out on a lot of red flags in terms of the house’s electrical integrity. This will be one of the best investments and wise move as a new homeowner.
Other times to schedule an electrical inspection is after a major storm (your electrician will be able to gauge the damages sustained by your electrical system), and of course during electrical issues (please do not attempt to DIY or patch solutions, the safest route will be to call a licensed electrician near you right away)
2. Using appliances with defects or issues
We use multiple household appliances and gadgets daily, from our television, washing machine, microwaves down to our chargers. With everyday use, usual wear and tear will happen, or with improper use, the lifespan of these appliances is reduced. When appliances start to malfunction, owners do not usually have them checked immediately or replaced. It’s either they will try to “fix” the problems or just continue using it, as long as it still works even if not consistently.
If you have a malfunctioning appliance, have it repaired or throw it away and buy a new one if you have the budget. Do not risk operating it because it can cause bigger problems to your electrical system.
What can happen? For one, You might get electrocuted, they can also cause surge damage, burn connectors, and worst, lead to electrical short that will eventually spark a fire.
3. Not upgrading two-prong outlets to three-prong outlets
Your two-prong outlet might still be working, but you have to keep in mind that it is not the standard of modern safety anymore. Homes built after 1962 are now using three-prong outlets.
What is the difference between the two? A three-prong outlet has an added safety feature, the third prong is for grounding. In case of a short circuit, the third-prong will act as a “protector”.
In addition, if you have a three-prong outlet at home (yay for that) but have an appliance for two-prong, do not break off the third-prong in order to use it. While it may still work, it is an accident waiting to happen (electric shock or even fire). Use an adapter instead.
The upgrade from a two-prong outlet to a three-prong outlet is another worthy investment in our books.
4. Ignoring exposed wiring in the bathroom
This is Science 101, water conducts electricity. Water is, of course, essential, while electricity is also needed in the bathroom area. It should follow that the need to be extra careful. In the event that there is any frayed or damaged wiring, having it repaired immediately is paramount. Don’t be a candidate for electrical shocks or burns.
Other electrical safety that you should follow is making sure that electrical sockets are far away from the shower or any running water, have the outlets equipped with GFCI (this automatically shuts down the power when grounding is detected), do not use any electrical device while standing on the water (this might be common sense but many people are careless) and have your electric heater hardwired into a circuit.
5. Using the wrong extension cord wrongly and using extension as the main fixture in your house
A lot of homeowners are failing in the correct usage of an extension cord. There is a right type of extension cord for specific usage in the house. Following the guidelines will ensure the safety and prevention of home fires.
Pro tip: Always use the packaging to check the proper designation of your extension cord. For example, if the cord is labeled “S” it is good for indoor usage or it is the general use cord. When you need an extension cord for outdoor use, choose the one labeled with “W”. This means that it is heavy-duty. There is insulation and they usually have bright vinyl or rubber covers.
When it comes to usage, take note that there is a limit to the electric current that it can conduct. You will be surprised how many households use one extension cord for multiple devices. Also, many homeowners don’t know that sensitive electronics shouldn’t be plugged in the usual extension cords, and you will need the ones with built-in surge protection. The final reminder is to always purchase extension cords with three prongs to reduce the chances of electrical fires and electrical shocks.
6. Ignoring flickering lights
We often wonder why even though annoying; a lot of homeowners ignore flickering lights. Occasional flickering of lights is actually normal if you live in an older house, but the keyword is “occasional”. If it happens a lot then it means that there is an electrical issue that needs to be addressed.
Some of the common reasons for flickering lights are faulty light switches, problems with the light bulb itself (loosening in the sockets, etc.), fluctuation in the voltage, overloaded circuits, loose electrical connections, and overloaded circuits.
Call the in licensed electrician near you so that s/he can properly diagnose the problem.
7. Overloading your electrical outlets
With modernization comes more gadgets, appliances, and devices. This is one of the reasons why the demand of electricity in our homes keeps on rising. One of the problematic issues is houses having inadequate outlets.
Homeowners resort to extension cords and power strips to accommodate the multiple appliances. The primary thinking of homeowners is that they need the electricity to make the devices work, not considering the consequences of plugging too many devices in a single outlet.
This ends up to overloading of electrical outlets. Note that when an electrical outlet overloads, it affects your whole circuit. This will also cause your circuit wiring to overheat. Wiring problems can usually be spotted easily because of buzzing sounds, hot devices or outlets, and the unusual smell.
Pro tip: to avoid overloading of the circuit, your aim should be not to exceed 80% of the maximum load. You can do this by installing new circuits for high-demand devices, not using too many appliances at the same time, using LED lights to replace the incandescent light bulbs, and install new electrical outlets if needed (call an electrician)
8. Attempting DIY repairs
It is dangerous, could be illegal and your insurance is on the line every time you attempt a DIY electrical job. Electricity, especially in complicated projects, is just plain serious. You can get electrocuted, cause fire and even die. Saving a few bucks is not worth it especially if it ends in a disaster. Put your safety in high regard and call a licensed electrician when needed. They are trained to assess electrical problems; provide proper solutions plus they also have the proper equipment to do the job.
Accidents caused by electrical issues are usually preventable. Homeowners need to be mindful and knowledgeable on how electricity works. You may not know it, but what you are doing (or lack of doing) can be dangerous and cause bigger accidents and the destruction of properties. Safety first!