Give Your Home an Electrical Safety Checkup
Just as your vehicle needs regular checkups to operate properly, so does your home’s electrical system.
Electrical fires are a serious risk to your home. By checking switches, outlets, cords, appliances and the electrical panel, you’re reducing the possibility of an electrical fire in your home. Always use a licensed electrician to complete work involving electrical wires, outlets and electrical panels.
Use this checklist to ensure you can identify and correct potential electrical hazards around your home before an electrical fire happens.
Switches and Outlets:
- Are any switches or outlets warm to the touch? Unusually warm switches or outlets may indicate an unsafe wiring condition.
- To fix: Stop using these switches and outlets until they are checked by a licensed electrician.
- Do any switches or outlets make cracking, buzzing, or sizzling sounds? Unusual noises from a switch or outlet may indicate an unsafe wiring condition, such as a loose electrical connection
- To fix: Have a licensed electrician check these switches and outlets.
- Do plugs fit snugly into all outlets? Loose-fitting plugs can cause overheating and fires.
- To fix: Outlets without a snug fit should be replaced.
- Do you have recurring tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses? Fuses and circuit breakers are safety devices on your home's electrical panel that help prevent overloading your home's electrical system and prevent fires. They stop the electrical current if it exceeds the safe level for some portion if your home's electrical system. Frequent blown fuses or tripped circuits can signify a serious electrical problem.
- To fix: Contact a licensed electrician immediately.
- Do you have arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) on your electrical panel? AFCIs are advanced circuit breakers that provide greater electrical fire protection.
- To fix: Consider having a licensed electrician replace the standard circuit breakers with AFCIs. Then, be sure to regularly test the AFCIs.
Lamps and Appliances:
- Are you using the appropriate wattage lightbulbs in all lamps and light fixtures? an incandescent bulb with a wattage higher than recommended may overheat the light fixture, wiring or nearby combustible material, leading to fire.
- To fix: Consider replacing incandescent bulbs with LED lighting, which emit less heat and minimize the risk of overheating.
- Are all applaince cords placed so they will not touch hot surfaces? Cords can melt or burn from excess heat. this can expose wires and lead to a fire or electrical shock.
- To fix: Move cords away from all heat sources, such as heaters, ranges and toasters.
- Is any cord cracked, frayed or otherwise damaged? Damaged cords may have exposed wires that can be a fire and schock hazard.
- To fix: Do not use damaged cords. Replace the cord or the equipment.
- Are cords attached to anything with nails or staples? Nails and staples can cut or pinch insulation or break wire strands, presenting a fire or shock hazard.
- To fix: Remove nails or staples. Check cords and replace if damaged.
- Are cords palced under carpets? Cords can overheat if air cannot flow around them, creating a fire hazard.
- To fix: Mve cords or carpets so the cords are not covered.
- Do you use extension cords on a permanent basis? Extension cords are designed for temporary use. Extended use may damage the cord, creating a fire and shock hazard.
- To fix: Have a licensed electrician install new outlets where needed or move equipment closer to an outlet.
For more information about home electrical safety, visit the electrical safety foundation international's (ESFI) website at esfi.org.