Electrical Safety

By
Home Inspector with Pillar To Post® Professional Home Inspection
According to the National Association of Home Inspectors, one out every four Americans never checks their home for electrical hazards. As a result, homeowners are unaware of what their home can be vulnerable to.

In fact, in a typical year, the U.S. Fire Administration estimates that electrical problems in the home can account for 67,800 fires and $868 million dollars in property loss damage.

In order to create awareness for homeowners, here are some tips and advice on making your home safer from potential electrical hazards that may occur. Electricity is a very powerful and dangerous household benefit; use these tips with caution when performing them.

Outlets
--Look for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs. They can overheat and possibly start a fire.
--Replace any missing or broken wall plates.
--Apply safety covers on all unused outlets.

Cords
--Observe the conditions of the cords - make sure they are not frayed or cracked and placed appropriately out of traffic areas.
--Do not nail or staple cords to the wall. Also, be sure not to place them under carpets, rugs or rest any furniture on top of them.

Extension Cords
--Use extension cords only on a temporary basis - they are not intended for permanent household wiring. --Check that cords are not overloaded.
--Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent injury.

Plugs
--Make sure your plugs fit your outlets.
--Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit.
--Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong fit a two-conductor outlet - this may lead to an electrical shock.
--Do not overload outlets with too many appliances.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock.

--Test GFCIs according to the manufacturer's instructions monthly and after major electrical storms.
--Replace all GFCI's that are not working properly.
--Never replace a GFCI with a standard non-GFCI outlet or circuit breaker.
--Do not use an appliance or device that trips a GFCI on a non GFCI-protected circuit. Take the appliance to an authorized repair center to be checked for faulty wiring or replace it.

Light Bulbs
--Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures for correct wattage.
--Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended.
--Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely - loose bulbs may overheat.

Circuit Breakers/Fuses
Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used.
--Always replace a fuse with the correctly specified size fuse.

Appliances
If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.

Wiring
--Never work on or around "hot" lines.
--Always de-energize lines and equipment by disconnecting them from the power source at the circuit breakers or fuses.
--Don't forget to test every conductor before you make contact with it. Use a non-contact voltage tester for this.
--Never use the ground wire as the neutral or circuit- carrying conductor.
--Use a strip gauge on devices to strip the proper length of insulation from wires.

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