What Causes Electrical Fires?

The reasons behind electrical fires at home. 

Electrical fires occur with even the smallest mishap. A wire left unattended. A burning smell left unchecked. Electrical fires claim many lives per year, and it’s up to you to check that everyone is safe in your house. 

In fact, according to research, here are some points to note.

-Electrical fires in residential buildings occur mostly in dwellings with one or two families.

-Fires spread quickly in electrical fires, and are barely ever limited to one place.

-These fires start most often in bedrooms and then spread to the rest of the house.

-Most casualties happen when such fires spark in the living room, family room, or living room. 

-Elements which catch fire the fastest are electrical wires, cable insulation, or structural parts. 

-Electrical failures and malfunctions are some of the main causes of electrical fires. Other causes are short circuits or worn insulation. 

Here are some common causes of electrical fires.

As mentioned before, electrical fires can start from even the smallest of sparks. Knowing the reasons behind an electrical fire can help you stay careful and ensure that you don’t make repetitive mistakes. 

Faulty electrical outlets and old appliances

Faulty electrical outlets coupled with old appliances are a recipe for disaster. Fires started by older appliances that have faults in them, such as corroded cords, switches, and receptacles, are at more of a risk than others. Always make sure to check that the cord you are using is in good shape and not subject to wear and tear. If these are exposed to surfaces such as curtains, rugs, floors, and more, your surroundings could catch fire. Certain cords, called running cords, go under rugs. If these cords are faulty your rugs can catch fire. 

Light fixtures

Another main cause of electrical fires is problems with light fixtures. If you install a light bulb that requires more wattage than what could be given, it could lead to short circuits and electrical fires. Before installing any fixture, it’s imperative to check the maximum bulb wattage on any and keep to the amount suggested. If you place a cloth, paper, or any other flammable material over a lampshade, the material can catch fire. 

Extension cords

Not using extension cords properly is another reason for fires caused due to electrical issues. Any appliances you have should be plugged into the outlet, and not into an extension cord because it might not be able to take the load of appliances. Extension cords are for smaller items, such as charging your mobile phone or laptops. If you don’t have enough outlets, call in a professional to install them.


If the electrical wiring at home is outdated, it could cause electrical fires. For example, if your house is more than 20 years old, it might not have enough capacity to handle all the electrical appliances placed in a modern home. 

These days, it’s all about creating a smart home, with a central hub and ensuring that each appliance or fixture is connected to a central application. May they be wide-screen televisions, gaming equipment, microwaves, and more, a smart home centralizes all these applications, and requires a lot of electrical output to do so. 

It’s also important to keep any form of loose wiring at bay, and each wire must be insulated. In most cases, breakers are triggered when circuits are much too overloaded with electricity, however, breaker boxes that have connectors that don’t work, tend to overload and this leads to a fire.

Ways to prevent electrical fires 

1) Check your outlets and make sure that they are properly fitted to the wall. Check around your house, and keep track of all your outlets. Any loose-fitted outlets can cause a fire. In case wall plates are missing, your electrical wiring will be exposed. It’s important to cover these with anything protective and insulative. This is important if you have children in the house. 

2) Don’t change the structure of an electrical plug, especially those that have a third prong, simply input it inside a two-conductor outlet. Don’t bend the prongs in any way or force them into an outlet. 

3) To protect multiple plugs, use a surge protector. If you include too many plugs in an outlet this could lead to an overload. The better option is getting surge protectors, also called power bars, and keep them in your home. 

4) Make note of frayed electrical cords and replace them. Check the cords around your house and if they appear frayed; replace them, as they could cause an electrical fire. Ensure that no loose wires are exposed.

5) Try to keep your cords away from carpets. If you put your electrical cords under carpets, rugs, or near furniture, and if they get overheated, it could cause a fire. It’s also important to place such cords in areas that don’t have too much human traffic, and they don’t get stepped on. 

Also, make sure that you keep wires away from areas that have a lot of water. For example, it’s best not to use a hairdryer near a sink, as it could cause a short circuit and ultimately, an electrical fire. Moreover, make sure that you don’t nail electrical cords to the floors, walls, or objects as this could stop electrical currents and cause electrical fires. 

Safeguard your home from electrical fires

Electrical fires are caused due to many reasons, from loose wires to faulty light fixtures and using extension cords for appliances. Even small changes can help mitigate the risk of electrical fires and keep your home safe. It’s important to always consider your home’s safety above all else. 

Getting professionals to come and check your outlets can help keep you prepared. Not only do licensed experts know what to look for, but they can also give you tips on how to protect your wires and where to place them. Ensure that this is a part of your annual maintenance contract as well. 

Octopus can help with solving any electrical issues, ensuring that your home is in top working order. As a part of our annual maintenance contract, we include air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, and repainting. Our experts will come to your home at least twice a year and check if anything requires repair. Make sure to call our toll-free number 800 3993 and we will answer your questions. 

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