A Guide To Preventing Electrical Fires in the Home

It will probably surprise you to learn that almost half of fires in domestic properties in the UK are caused by electrical items; anything from simple electric faults to unsafe consumer units or faulty appliances, all can cause a fire.

Fires devastate homes; valuables and possessions are destroyed, families left homeless, people injured or worse. To prevent the worst occurring in your home; here are our top tips for preventing electrical fires in the home.

Check The Condition Of Your Fusebox / Consumer Unit

In some houses, consumer units (or fuse boxes, fuse boards, electrical boxes) may have been in place for years without an obvious fault, leading homeowners to believe they are safe. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues that can occur with older consumer units:

  • Some older consumer units are constructed of wood making them highly flammable.
  • Some older consumer units may not be fitted with an RCD (Residual Current Device) - a life saving device that cuts off the power in the event of an electrical fault.
  • Live parts of older consumer units may become damaged exposing live parts to touch resulting in the risk for electrical shocks and being a major fire risk.

If you're unsure of the condition of your consumer unit, watch the video below covering some common older models of consumer unit and the faults they are prone to. If you’re still not sure, feel free to give one of our team a call on 0117 303 9000 and we’ll be happy to advise.

How to trip test your RCD

If you have a modern consumer unit, it should be fitted with an RCD – it's important that you test the RCD every so often to ensure it is working properly.

Trip testing your RCD is quick, easy and could prevent an electrical fire in your home. It's as simple as pushing a button; watch the video below for step by step instructions on trip testing your RCD.

Don't Overload Extension Cables

Sometimes referred to as 'daisy chaining', this is the action of plugging one extension cable into another to create more outlets. It's not a sensible thing to do, and can result in leads and plug sockets overheating and catching fire.

Hardware stores and large supermarkets will often sell larger extension cables that have the capacity for 6 plugs instead of the regular 4. This is preferable to joining two together as it is then protected by a single 13Amp fuse.

Is It Time For A Rewire?

Rewiring a home is an extensive job that involves replacing some or all of the wiring in a property. Because it’s seen as disruptive and potentially messy, it is something that may be avoided by homeowners; however, living in a home with unsafe wiring can result in a loss of electric, electric shock and electrical fires.

As well as a having a rewire carried out every 30 years, you should have an electrician come to inspect your wiring if you notice any of the following:

  • Intermittent lighting or power.
  • Fuses repeatedly blowing.
  • Wiring or switches & sockets in poor condition or damaged.
  • Green sticky substance on wiring or accessories.
  • DIY or poorly installed wiring or accessories.

Ensure Your Appliances Are Safe

Appliances can also cause fires in the home. Some of the most common include, tumble dryers, washing machines and cheap phone chargers. To ensure you don’t end up with an electrical fire in your home – shop smart:

  • Always buy chargers in line with manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Avoid buying appliances from abroad (cheap replicas on eBay).
  • Research the manufacturer first – Which? Has a list of the brands most associated with electrical fires here.
  • Ensure your appliances have the CE marking.
  • Don’t leave items such as hair straighteners or portable heaters unattended.

Test and Maintain Your Smoke Detectors

Regularly testing and maintaining your smoke detectors won’t prevent electrical fires, but it will ensure you are alerted in the event of a fire starting.

You should aim to test your smoke detector once a week, with a quick clean being carried out once every 6 months. Watch the video tutorial below to find out how easy it is to test your smoke detector; along with how to change the battery.

Your Local Friendly Electrician

Many houses in Bristol and Bath were built over 100 years ago and the electrical installations within many of them are often out-dated and in need of work to keep them safe for continued operation. We come across so many electrical faults that with the specialist knowledge and experience that we have, can be quickly and easily fixed at a cost-effective price.

If you think you have an issue with the electrics in your property – please don't hesitate to call us on Bristol: 0117 303 9000 Bath: 01225 683 056 or fill out a contact form below and we'll get back to you.

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