While emergencies do happen, it is always best to be pro-active and have your electrical service and smoke detectors routinely inspected by a professional, as you do for other critical systems (e.g. HVAC, fireplace, etc) in your house or facility. In fact, most property damage and injury/death at home are a consequence of electrically induced fires. Often we see overloaded circuits, improperly used extension cords, and old worn wires that are literally accidents waiting to happen.

Also changes in building code are constantly evolving to offer better protection and functionality. For example, arc faults are one of the leading causes for household fires. As a result, as of 2008, the National Electrical Code requires that all new construction have 15 and 20 ampere residential circuits with arc fault circuit interrupters installed (with the exception of laundries, kitchens, bathrooms, and garages where ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are required. (See later discussion). Most circuit breakers provide overload protection, short circuit protection, and (when specified) ground fault protection. But none provide protection against potential fire hazards that result in arching faults. Arching faults can occur in residential dwellings where there is deterioration in wire insulation caused by age, damaged appliance wire (e.g. caused by continued use and/or repeatedly running over a vacuum cleaner cord), a nail from a picture hanger can puncture wires within your walls, old style plugs where the wiring sheath is cut away or eroded, and/or furniture pushed up against an appliance/light cord. If your home was built before 2008, it is likely that there is an opportunity to improve safety as well as better support your electronics and appliances.

electrical fireMost of us are familiar with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). Over the years, the Code has been revised to add the required use of GFCIs to other areas of the house, especially locations where people would be standing near water (like your bathroom or kitchen), or on earth or cement ground. Just 25 years after the GFCI was first introduced, the number of accidental electrocutions in the U.S. had dropped in half, even though the use of electricity had more than doubled in that same time period. Clearly GFCIs are important safety features in your house. However, depending upon when your house was built/or remodeled, they may not have been deployed as fully as now required. For example, while bathroom outlets were required to have GFCIs in 1975, all counter top kitchen outlets were only required after 1995, and laundry areas and/or utility sinks after 2005.

Regardless of your circumstances, we offer an electrical systems/services audit to identify areas of concern, code violations, and remedies. Better safe than sorry?