Warning signs that your home is in danger of an electrical fire

Warning signs that your home is in danger of an electrical fire

According to the CFA, a quarter of house fires are electrical in nature. If you thought electricity was dangerous as it is, just wait until your electrical problems result in a house fire.

Fortunately, electrical fires can be prevented, especially if you know the causes and apply immediate safety precautions and remedies to prevent fires from springing up from your electrical circuitry.

So, what should you keep on the lookout for? Our licensed electricians in Highett explain.


How do most electrical fires start? A list of the most common symptoms to watch out for

Can you smell an electrical fire? Why you should pay attention to burning smells

Electricity is hot. However the vast majority of times, that heat is contained by your electrical insulation and wiring.

But if you have loose wiring connections or faulty insulation, electricity can leak out.

In addition to short circuits, this can also result in burning.

Since most electrical wirings come with rubber or plastic insulation, an unusual burnt plastic smell can be a sign that you’re at risk of an electrical fire.

When this smell is inhaled into the lungs, such toxic particles can make breathing difficult and cause severe respiratory issues such as bronchitis and asthma.

Luckily, you’ve caught it while it’s still smouldering and before it’s turned into a full-on fire, meaning you can get it fixed before it gets any worse.

How do electrical fires start in walls? How outdated and old electrical wiring can cause fires

As we mentioned above, electricity generates heat, though most circuits and wires are built to handle it.

Old and outdated electrical wiring, on the other hand?

It may not have the capacity to handle the increased amount of electricity demanded by today’s electrical appliances, and can get very hot as a result.

At the same time, worn-out wiring isn’t much better, as the insulation that prevents fires can wear out over time, leading to exposed heat.

This heat can sometimes reach extreme levels, to the point where said wires start fires within your walls!

During an electrical inspection, our team of sparkies can determine what type of wiring you have and its condition, helping you avoid this outcome.

Unsure if your wiring is fit for purpose? Find yourself asking how often electrical inspections need to be? Our electrical team can help with that.

Loose and worn out electrical outlets

It isn’t just problems with your electrical insulation that can result in electrical fires.

Poor electrical connections resulting from loose and worn out electrical outlets are another common cause of a home electrical fire. Issues like loose and worn out outlets can result in heat build-up in the electrical system – something that in turn leads to fires.

This can be fixed by getting poor electrical connections tightened or replaced, especially if the screws fall most of the time.

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Overloaded extension wires 

While this one doesn’t speak to an issue with your wiring itself, it’s still a surprisingly common cause of electrical problems.

Electrical circuits have a finite capacity. Go beyond this, and they heat up, becoming unsafe and increasing your risk of an electrical fire.

One of the most common ways homeowners end up overloading their circuitry is with excessive powerboard usage.

So never overload your electrical outlets, especially your extension cables and power strips, as it produces heat faster and can eventually melt your electrical insulation.

We get it, it’s convenient – however, it also comes with risks. Be sure your circuitry can safely handle that many appliances without issues before you plug in yet another power strip.

Tripping circuit breakers

Preventing electrical fires and overheating your electrical circuit is one of the many goals of circuit breakers. When electricity reaches unsafe levels, it automatically cuts the flow of power.

In addition to preventing overloads, it also reduces heat and brings down your fire risk.

If your switches are tripping constantly, that’s a sign that there’s some sort of recurring issue at play – but what? Better talk to your local electricians to find out!


How fast does an electrical fire spread?

Very fast – take our word for it, it’s downright terrifying how quickly an electrical fire (or any sort of house fire for that matter) can spread.

We aren’t just saying this to scare you. It’s the simple truth, and if you don’t believe us, just check out this informative video (if a little bit old) from Fire and Rescue NSW.

In less than a minute (and in many cases, in as little as 30 seconds), a small fire can turn into an unmanageable, dangerous and fast-moving event that can be impossible to control, and which can destroy properties and put lives at risk. 

It gets even worse if the fire starts in an area surrounded by wood, fabric and synthetic materials can further accelerate the spread of fire.

All the more reason to avoid one in the first place by keeping on top of the potential causes!

Stay proactive in preventing electrical fires by promptly addressing any flickering lights, sparking outlets, or other warning signs. Our emergency electricians in Highett share practical tips to keep your home safe from electrical fires.

What to do if you suspect an electrical fire?

Turn off all appliances and remove wires in outlets

So you’ve gotten lucky, and all you have to deal with right now is smoke. Fortunately, you’ve spotted the issue before it’s gotten any worse.

If you sense a burning smell inside your home and suspect that it is coming from your appliances, electrical wiring and outlets, the next thing to do is to turn off all your appliances, remove all the wires in the outlets and shut down the main power source. 

Doing so will stop the flow of electricity, allowing you to bring the heat down and locate where that smoky smell is coming from (and more importantly, fix it before it turns into a full-on electrical fire).

Take a proactive approach to fire prevention by strategically installing smoke alarms throughout your home. Early detection is key to minimising the impact of electrical fires and safeguarding your loved ones. Learn about the vital role of smoke alarms in preventing fires with the guide from our reliable electricians.

Will water put out an electrical fire?

You may think that throwing water in an electrical fire is the best way to keep the fire out.

Normally, you’d be right – when it comes to electrical fires however, doing so will only get you into more trouble.

Water is a conductor of electricity, and using it might even worsen the situation, putting you at risk of electrocution as electrical currents spread via water.

Fighting these types of fires requires fire extinguishers – specifically, fire extinguishers designed with electrical fires in mind.

Evacuate the area and call triple zero

If the problem has turned into a fire, the first thing you should do is immediately ring emergency services – if you clicked the video above, you’ll know how quickly a fire can spread, and thus how difficult it can be to control on your own.

One best way to protect yourself and your family is to evacuate, especially if the fire has built to the point where it’s starting to consume items and property.

When evacuating, it will likely be extremely smoky. To avoid smoke inhalation, it is better to stay close to the ground (remember, smoke – and heat – rises).


Reduce the risk of electrical fires in your home

Organise an electrical inspection today

Preparation is the key when it comes to fire security – and that means bringing an electrician on board to take a look at your domestic electrical services, the necessary electrical work to ensure that it’s fit for purpose and safe to use.

Our Melbourne electrical team can help you identify potential electrical fire hazards in your home and defects in electrical wires and outlets, especially in older homes. 

Our electricians all across Melbourne, from the CBD to the Bayside region and beyond. Whether you need electricians in Highett, Frankston or in one of the city’s inner suburbs, or a commercial electrician Melbourne, we can conduct safe and reliable electrical inspections and repairs.

From simple jobs like a blown fuse to complete home electrical rewiring, we’re here to ensure that your home or business is safe.

Our emergency electrician in Melbourne is answering calls 24/7/365, meaning that you’re covered no matter the time of day or day of the year.

Call us anytime 1300 300 222 – better yet, save our number in your phone, as you never know when you may need it! Alternatively, you can lodge a job online.

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