Signs of an Imminent Electrical Fire


Electrical fires can be catastrophic, causing significant damage to homes and businesses alike. As such, it's imperative that individuals know the warning signs that indicate an oncoming electrical fire and how to prevent them from occurring. Keep reading to learn more about the signs of an electrical fire from the team at Lightning Bug Electric.

Common Signs Before an Electrical Fire

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), home electrical fires are estimated to occur 51,000 times a year. This results in over 1,400 injuries as well as $1.3 billion in property damages. As such, it’s important to recognize the signs indicating an electrical fire is imminent.

Possible indicators of an electrical fire can include:

1. Persistent Burning Smell

If you ever smell something burning in your home, it's important to remain calm and take immediate action. If you can't find the source of the smell, it's possible that you're dealing with an electrical fire. This could smell like burning plastic or a slightly fishy scent. If you can’t locate where the smell is coming from, you should immediately turn off power in the affected area, if possible.

If you can't do this or if the smell is particularly strong, it's best to turn off the entire electrical system until a qualified electrician can come to investigate. However, if you see smoke or flames, your first priority should be to get out of the house and call 911.

2. Regularly Tripping Breakers

If your breaker trips every once in a while, that’s normal. However, if it continues to happen, this can be concerning. A few reasons for your breakers tripping include:

  • An overloaded circuit
  • Something is short-circuiting
  • A ground fault

When breakers trip, they are protecting you from an electrical fire. However, if it trips too much, this protection will stop and this could lead to a fire.

3. Crackling & Popping Noises

If you hear any crackling, sizzling, or popping noises coming from an outlet or circuit box, it's important to address the issue immediately. These noises are often caused by improper installation, faulty hardware, or the presence of moisture. Regardless of the cause, these noises pose a serious fire hazard, as electrical arcing and sparking can quickly lead to a fire.

4. Charred Outlets & Switches

Have you noticed charring on a switch or outlet in your home? This indicates that there has been a small electrical spark that has affected the area. Unfortunately, this could potentially lead to a fire if left untreated. It's important to take action and address the issue by calling a licensed electrician to inspect and fix the problem.

Why Should You Not Put Water on an Electrical Fire

One of the most important things to remember in the event of an electrical fire is to never throw water on it. Although it may seem like the most logical solution, water conducts electricity and could ultimately lead to electrocution. Instead, opt for a C-rated fire extinguisher or fire blanket if the fire is relatively small. These options are specifically designed to combat electrical fires without putting yourself or others in danger.

However, if the fire is more serious and progressively becoming larger, do not deal with it yourself. Instead, you’ll want to leave your home immediately with your loved ones and pets and call 911 for professional help.

How to Prevent an Electrical Fire

By following a few simple safety tips, you can fully enjoy the benefits of electrical devices and appliances while minimizing risk. Here are a few tips to reduce the risk of an electrical fire:

  • Replace old wiring
  • Have an electrical safety audit
  • Make sure smoke detectors are in working condition
  • Identify and repair/replace loose outlets
  • Replace old appliances
  • Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords

When it comes to electrical safety, prevention is key. By taking the necessary precautions, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from dangerous electrical fires. If you’re in need of electrical installations, service panel upgrades, or more, contact our team.

We’re here to help you keep your home safe. Call (404) 471-3847 or contact us today.