Do you think you may have a problem with your electric wiring? Did you know that there are more than 40,000 fires caused by bad wiring or improper use of electric cords and appliances.

If you’re concerned about your home wiring, here are some tips about what causes electric fires, what the signs may be and a recommendation from the Consumer Products Safety Commission about how to help protect yourself.

We know: Signs of Faulty Electric Wiring

Be Aware and Know the Facts

Is an older house more at risk for wiring problems?

Half of the nation’s housing stock is more than 30 years old. Many older homes were not designed to meet current-day electricity demands. An older home doesn’t necessarily mean a hazardous home, but if you live in one, you should be aware that wiring could be a problem.

What are the problems with older homes?

Homes that are 100 years or more old, were wired at 30 amps. By mid-century, that had increased to 60 amps. More recently, homes have been wired at 150 to 200 amps. Some new homes are wired at 800 amps.

If your home was wired before the 1950s, it may have poor wire insulation, ungrounded (2 prong) outlets, and fuse boxes instead of circuit breakers. All of these things increase the risk of fire and accident.

Some homes build in the 1960s and '70s used aluminum wire for some things instead of copper. Copper is safer.

What’s one of the most common cause of wiring fires?

Do-it-yourself wiring.

What are some of the warning signs of wiring problems?

Dimming lights, hot outlets, blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers.

How do fires actually start?

A phenomenon called ‘arcing’ is the source of many fires. An arc occurs when there’s a fault in the wiring system and the electric current has to move through the air to complete the circuit. If there is flammable material near one of these extremely hot arcs, it can burst into flames, starting a fire. (Some arcing is normal, some is dangerous.)

What can I do to make my home safer?

Get a licensed electrician to inspect your wiring.

Also, the Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends you buy something called an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. These are new devices that monitor the flow of electric current and detect abnormal arcs in your system.

If the device senses something abnormal, it shuts off electricity. It also trips when a short circuit or overload occurs.

The new device should be installed by an electrician.

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