According to a study by the National Fire Prevention Association, faulty wiring is the most common cause of house and apartment fires in the United States. Because of this, codes for electrical work are constantly changing to provide a safer living environment. But even if your electric system is current (no pun intended), you can still be vulnerable to burnt wires behind the outlet.
Burnt wires create a lot of issues within the home. If you notice problems such as light bulbs burning out quickly, flickering, or you have an issue with a light fixture refusing to turn, on you might have burnt wires behind the outlet. Burnt wires are dangerous and are a leading cause of house fires. But the really scary part about them is that you may have one and not know it for a really long time, which makes your home a danger zone.
“The thing about a burned wire is sometimes it can take a long period of time before you even notice you have one,” said John Moore Services Electrical Manager David Floyd. “Or sometimes you might notice that something is not right with your electrical wiring but have no idea what the problem actually is because there are no lasting visible signs. A lamp might flicker for a few days then work fine for the next week. And that makes them really hard to notice.”
Because burnt wires are hard to detect, knowing what causes them is a great way to prevent them from occurring.
Loose Electrical Connection
Loose connections are primarily responsible for burnt wires behind the outlet. In the back of all receptacles are terminals in which wires should be anchored so they stay in place. But many times, installers stab the wires through and don’t wrap them around the terminal. This is called backstabbing, and backstabbed wires have a tendency to become loose. A loose wire causes the wire to burn, and burned wires will eventually start a fire.
Abuse and Misuse
The holiday season is right around the corner and this means decorating the home and yard with colorful lights. In order to do this, an extension cord is usually needed. But if the extension cords are not placed in certain areas, you can end up with burned wiring.
“If the extension cord is placed in a populated area where people are walking on it or moving things across it big problems are occurring within the cord,” said Floyd. “Electricity is flowing through the cord and by stepping on it you are impeding the flow of electricity and creating heat restrictions. This causes the wiring that is inside the receptacle the cord is plugged into to fray and become burned.”
Overloading of a Circuit
A circuit is made to hold a certain amount of heat. If you have an outlet that has several loads on it that are in use for a long period of time that can create a great amount of heat that the circuit can’t handle. When the circuit breaker gets too hot, the breaker is supposed to trip, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. And if it doesn’t, that heat will start to burn the wires on the inside of the receptacle, which can start a fire.
Because it’s hard to spot a burned wire, here are some signs to look for:
- As you walk by an outlet you smell smoke
- There is a burned smell in a particular room that gets heavier with time
- Lights, TV, and other devices plugged into an outlet will flicker
- You see small amounts of smoke coming from the outlet
- You might have several outlets in one room that are not working at all. Many times, outlets are wired together and if the wire in one outlet is burned it will cause all the other outlets that are connected to it to stop working
“Once you realize that you have a burned wire you need to get it fixed right away because the longer you wait the more likely you are to start a fire,” said Floyd. “Typically the burned portion of the wire is closest to the device and in order to fix it that part must be removed. And many times there is enough good wire left to use to make the connection safe again.”
The electrical wiring in your home needs to be monitored regularly by a licensed professional because the slightest problem can end up causing a fire that could burn your entire house down. If you notice any of the signs mentioned above in your home call the experts at John Moore Services at (713) 730-2525 or contact us today to come and take a look. Because taking the time to fix an electrical burnout now is a lot better than having to rebuild your home after an electrical fire.