Around 51,000 home fires and 500 deaths are caused annually due to electrical faults. While all new buildings have to meet certain electrical safety regulations, it is older buildings that pose a great concern. Many buildings that are over twenty years old are not equipped to deal with the present electrical load and pose a high risk of electrical fires.
Electrical safety concerns in older buildings
- Outdated regulations: Buildings that were built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s met a certain standard of electrical safety but, those standards are completely outdated now. Every three years, the National Electric Code (NEC) makes revisions to its safety laws to reflect changes in technologies that make buildings safer.
- Increase in load: Over the past few years, the concentration of buildings using electricity in each area has grown. The electrical consumption in each household has increased with the influx of new gadgets and appliances. The considerable increase in load on the electric supply has also increased the probability of electrical fires in homes with outdated electrical installations. In fact, electrical fires are responsible for $7 Million worth of property damage every year.
- Age: Overtime it is not uncommon for the wiring in buildings to wither and crack, exposing loose wires that are essentially leaking electrical charges that can easily catch fire.
- Home improvements: DIY home improvements over the years could have damaged the electrical installations in a home. Adjustments in electrical sockets, lighting fixtures, or remodeling a room by an unqualified person could damage the integrity of the electrical setup in a house.
- Other problems: A number of other problems have been observed in older homes that give rise to concerns of electrical safety; overloaded circuits get overheated, improper or no earthing for sockets, no residual current devices in bathrooms, etc. All these and more have a high risk of an electrical accident.
What can be done?
Older homes need to be inspected regularly and up to date fire safety regulations need to be put in place. Installation of working smoke detectors and fire alarms, AFCIs, Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), and Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs), could all help reduce the number of fires caused by electrical faults.
Because of the fast growth in the number of residences in cities and towns over the last few years, there has been an additional load on the electrical supply. Many older homes were not equipped to handle this load and now are at risk of electrical accidents. A proper system when put in place to evaluate these risks and take the necessary measures, will help combat the problem.