One of the best ways to protect your Forest Lake, MN, home is by taking good care of your electrical system. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2015 and 2019, more than 46,000 fires were caused by either electrical failure or electrical malfunction annually.
Worse still, the underlying causes of fires like these are often hidden behind outlets, drywall, and other building structures where they fester unnoticed by homeowners. To help you stay safe, the following are six tips for preventing electrical accidents and hazards.
1. Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Installed
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are a fixture in modern homes. GFCIs disrupt electrical current when outlets are exposed to high levels of moisture. They shut the supply of power off as soon as they detect current flowing through water, people, or other obstructions. If you live in an older property and don’t have GFCI outlets, you should have them installed in your laundry room, bathrooms, and kitchen. If there are active outlets at the building exterior, these should be upgraded to GFCI outlets as well.
2. Practice Smart Extension Cord Use
Never overload extension cords. You should never “piggyback” or “daisy-chain” these cords, either. This involves plugging one extension cord into another to extend its length or to increase the number of outlets that you have access to.
An outlet should only have one extension cord plugged into it at a time. Moreover, major appliances and high-powered electronics should be plugged directly into wall outlets or into properly rated surge protectors.
Don’t run extension cords under rugs or furnishings, and avoid using them if they’re frayed or otherwise damaged. If you haven’t done so in a while, give all of your extension cords and surge protectors a thorough visual inspection. If you spot signs of excessive wear, replace these units right away.
3. Don’t Put Seemingly Minor Electrical Repairs Off
When problems are suspected in your electrical system, report them and schedule repairs as soon as possible. These include outlets that smoke, spark, or emit faint burning smells, outlets that don’t work, and outlets that cause your lights to temporarily dim when you use them. An expert electrician can find out why the related portion of your electrical system is malfunctioning and implement a solution that eliminates the risk of fire and electrocution.
4. Update Your Home’s Electrical System Every 25 Years
Most homes should have their electrical systems updated every 20 to 25 years. This remains true even when outlets, light switches, and other features continue functioning optimally. These updates ensure that residential electrical systems remain capable of meeting modern electricity demand. Odds are, you have far more devices, appliances, and other electronics plugged in than you did just two decades ago. Having your house re-wired and other elements throughout your electrical system updated also allows electricians to identify and replace worn and damaged components before these often hidden problems spiral out of control.
5. Use Cords, Appliances, and Devices the Right Way
Never unplug an unused device or appliance by simply tugging at its cord. Instead, use the base of its plug to remove it from the outlet. This prevents wire damage at the interior of the cord and protects your outlets.
Make sure that all of your devices and appliances have adequate clearance. For instance, computers, televisions, and stereo systems should be sufficiently far away from walls, furnishings, or other nearby items to prevent overheating.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your cords are well-organized. If you have jumbles of cords and extension cords behind your desk or behind your entertainment center, establish a feasible system for organizing them and keeping them that way. High-density areas like these are common sites for electrical fires. Spilled beverages, overheating, and many other issues can lead to property damage and property loss.
6. Invest in Surge Protection
Whole-house surge protection will protect all of your outlets from the increases in voltage that occur during surge events. If your lights flicker and dim whenever major appliances turn on, this is an indication that your electrical system needs an update. However, flickering lights can also be an indication of changes or inconsistencies in your electrical supply from your utility company.
Most homes experience one or two major surge events each year during power outages. However, mini-surge events constantly occur all of the time. Whole-house surge protection will limit your risk of electrocution and electrical fires while keeping your electronics protected. You can even explore your options in external surge protection to limit your risk of electrical system damage from direct lightning strikes.
We proudly serve Forest Lake, MN and the surrounding communities. We offer electrical repair services, electrical panels, EV charging stations, whole-house surge protection, and more. If you want help keeping your electrical system safe and on par with your household’s electricity demand, call Plugz Electric today!