Electrical Fires: How They Start, Warning Signs, & Prevention

Apr 22, 2022

Electricity is a necessity within modern homes for the appliances we use on a daily basis. As we all learn every time the power goes out, it can be incredibly hard to be productive without the power in your home. Not only is it dark, but there goes your plans of throwing in a load of laundry, starting up your dishwasher, or doing a quick once over with your vacuum. Electricity is such a staple in our everyday lives and households, yet, it commonly still poses very serious risks to your safety. 20 percent of all fires in Canada are electrical fires

An electrical fire is defined as a failure or malfunction with the electrical components of equipment or machinery.

Examples of electrical fires:

  • Faulty and aged-out wiring and appliances
  • Lighting fixtures with too high of wattage
  • Extension cords
  • Space heaters

The good news is that electrical fires are preventable if you know what to look out for. Here are some key signs to look out for to prevent electrical fires in your home:

How to prevent electrical fires?

Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

While most homes experience a tripped breaker from time to time, if this is happening very consistently, there is likely a bigger issue that needs to be looked into by a professional. There are a few reasons consistent trips could be happening, including:

  • Your circuit is overloaded
  • Something is short-circuiting
  • Grounding faults

When a circuit breaker breaks too often, it is bound to exhaust itself and eventually stop breaking at all. That is when an electrical fire can occur. 

Strong Burnt Smell With No Cause Detected

If you smell something burning and are unable to locate the source after inspecting your home, it is recommended that you turn off your power and have your home’s electrical inspected right away.

Discoloured Or Charred Outlets And Switches

If you’ve noticed an outlet has stopped working, and that it has discolouration around it, this is a sure sign that this outlet has already experienced a small electrical spark. If you notice this, you should have a professional investigate and resolve the issue right away.

Old And Outdated Wiring

If your home is older, 20 years or more, it is possible that its wiring is no longer able to support the increased amounts of electrical appliances that are in it today. Large TVs, microwaves, and air conditioners can all add up and take a toll on your home’s electrical system. It is important to have your electrical system checked often (every four years is recommended) so that you have the peace of mind that your home is in good standing when it comes to electrical fires.

How do you put out an electric fire?

Electrical fires can escalate incredibly quickly, and can engulf an entire home within three minutes. 

Here are our recommended steps for putting out an electrical fire:

  • Cut off the electricity
  • If it is a small fire, smother the flame with a sodium bicarbonate such as baking soda, and cut off the oxygen by smothering the fire with a heavy blanket
  • DO NOT use water to put out an electrical fire
  • First, verify that your fire extinguisher is fit for Class C fires. If so, proceed to put out the fire using your fire extinguisher

If you suspect any of these warning signs are happening within your home, please call the experts at AJ’s Electrical to inspect the safety of your home. The best way to prevent an electrical fire from occurring in your home is to be aware of the warning signs and ensure your electrical is being inspected regularly by an electrician.

The technicians at AJ’s Electrical have been servicing the lower mainland for decades and always prioritize your time, safety, and budget. Contact us today for your free estimate!


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If you are looking to contact an Electrician in the Lower Mainland then please call 604-946-8946 or complete our online request form.

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