Today we launch the first in a new blog series designed to help you prevent common electrical hazards, with tips and advice to better protect you and your family. In the first of the series, we look at the best ways to avoid the worst of electrical disasters: electrical house fires.

The Overloaded Outlet

Electrical outlets are a common necessity in our everyday lives. At any given moment, there are about 120 volts of electricity flowing through an American home, and from the looks of things, there are about 119 flowing through this one outlet. This is a recipe for disaster.

An estimated 5,300 house fires are caused by overloaded outlets annually. It’s easy to look at this picture and think “That’s not me,” and you’re probably right, but it takes a lot less to overload a circuit. At what point do outlets become overloaded enough to start electrical house fires?

Circuit breakers and fuses protect against overload by regulating current.  Most circuit breakers and fuses regulate at 15 or 20 amps. You should never use more than 8% of that total.

How do we know when we’re in range?  Figuring out how much one outlet can handle is just a matter of some basic math.  Use this formula to make a determination:

p/e = i

In simpler terms, this translates to wattage divided by voltage equals amps.

You can figure out the wattage of each device by checking the manufacturer’s information or by simply Googling the product name and the word “wattage,”  then add the figures together.

If you’re using 2,000 watts of power with your holiday lights and other decorations, you divide that 2,000 watts by the volts in your house (usually 120). You should come up with 16.6 amps of current usage. With a 20-amp electrical outlet, you’re using around 80% of the available current, which is the maximum you should use per circuit.

If the math isn’t working out for your home, it may be time to install additional outlets. Call Mister Sparky Electrician NWA to find out more!

Fireplace Safety

Physics 101 folks, hot air rises (ideally out of an unblocked chimney!).  When the chimney is obstructed, or the opening of your fireplace is blocked, the hot air will get trapped in confined spaces of the chimney and then your house. This can lead to a house full of smoke and more often than not, house fires.

For your safety and that of your loved ones, neighbors, and the world at large, keep your chimneys and other airways unblocked and clean. Check out more fireplace safety tips here.

Exposed Wiring

Electrical house fires are often caused by faulty electrical wiring. Home inspectors check electrical panels but are not allowed to open up walls and ceilings, so problems like exposed wiring often go unnoticed. If they’re not up to code, are missing labels, or aren’t up to capacity, you will have to address the issues. Exposed, spliced or taped wires need to be fixed as soon as possible. You will need to hire an electrician for these jobs. If you see anything like the picture, contact Mister Sparky Electrician Northwest Arkansas today!

Mister Sparky® of Northwest Arkansas, America’s On-Time Electrician in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville services the Northwest Arkansas area with a team of licensed electricians. In addition to flickering lights, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repairceiling fan installationlighting installationelectrical wiring repairlandscape lighting installation, and home electrical inspections.