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7 Warning Signs of Electrical Fire Risks

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7 warning signs of electrical fire risks

The underlying cause of electrical fires is simple malfunctioning. Incorrect or faulty wiring can come about as commercial properties, in particular, have more complicated wiring than domestic buildings. This can inevitably lead to problems and increase the risk of electrical fires.

If electrical wiring isn’t maintained and serviced periodically, then this risk gets even greater. It is the responsibility of any property owner or manager to ensure that they comply with health and safety risk assessments and that electrical repairs are carried out regularly.

Everyone should be aware of the early warning signs that your property could be at risk of an electrical fire. Read on for 7 warning signs of electrical fire to watch out for.

Signs that your property is at risk

  1. Flickering lights – If your lights are flickering or dimming, they may have a loose connection or frayed wiring. Take this simple sign as a warning that your wiring is not working correctly. Contact a professional if the problem doesn’t resolve, even after replacing bulbs.
  2. Frequent circuit breaker tripping – The breaker has the essential, singular job of cutting off your electricity when the circuit overheats, to prevent fires. It is similar to the job a fuse does, except that circuit breakers can be used repeatedly. However, take this as a sign. If your breaker is constantly tripping, it is clearly trying to tell you something. Get a qualified electrician to check the wiring in case there is current leakage or loose, damaged wires.
  3. Faulty appliances – In most commercial kitchens, a high amount of electricity is used to cook food. This will increase the risk of a fire breaking out. That’s why it’s extremely important to ensure all appliances are in good working order, through PAT testing.
  4. Burning smell – If you notice a burning smell in your property that is hard to track down, it could mean that you have a short circuit, caused by faulty or loose wiring.
  5. Frequent blown fuses – If you are changing blown fuses on a regular basis, something isn’t working correctly in the system and you will need to get a professional to repair it as soon as possible. Any number of things could be the reason your fuses are blowing, from overloaded or short circuits to faulty wiring.
  6. Loose, discoloured and hot outlets and sockets – Electric sockets can crack easily and if not repaired can develop a greater risk of sparking a fire. Discolouration or scorch marks are a sign that overheating is occurring. Also, watch out for loose sockets, as wiring won’t be properly secured and the electric current could be leaking.
  7. Old-fashioned lighting – Electrical lighting can cause a fire if the wattage of the bulbs exceeds the capabilities of your light fixtures. Many buildings still use old wiring in their lighting systems. This can mean that they aren’t able to handle the amperage (the strength of the electric current) needed, leading to overheating and sparking.

Checking for warning signs of electrical fire

Most of the issues listed above won’t jump out at you as you go about your daily business. As such, it’s important to monitor your site to check for these warning signs. Here’s how:

  • An initial inspection will highlight things like old-fashioned lighting or faulty appliances.
  • Ongoing inspections will allow you to check for any odd smells or flickering lights, as well as keeping tabs on the condition of electric sockets and electrical appliances going forward.
  • You should also make it easy for employees to report any issues they come across. Rather than carrying on as normal when fuses are blown or circuit breakers are tripped, they can flag them to a site manager who can act accordingly.
  • A professional inspection is also recommended for a closer look at the condition of your installation and appliances. They will be able to spot issues that aren’t noticeable to the untrained eye, catching problems earlier for the safest possible approach. More specifically, you should keep up with ongoing EICR reports for your installation and PAT testing for appliances.

warning signs of electrical fire

How to minimise the risk of electrical fire

It’s one thing knowing about the warning signs of electrical fire and being able to spot them. The next step is taking action to minimise the risk of electrical fire. Here’s what to do:

Arrange repairs promptly

Electrical fires can happen at any time and the odds are stacked against you if you leave risk wiring or appliances ignored. If you spot anything awry, it’s vital to get a professional electrician to inspect it as soon as possible.

If a problem is found, book in repairs as soon as you can. Your electrician will advise whether it’s safe to continue using a certain appliance or even your site in the meantime. Make sure you follow their advice.

Choose a reliable contractor

Following on from the point above, it’s critical to choose electrical contractors you can trust:

  • Check for accreditations like NICEIC and SafeContractor approval.
  • Read customer reviews from businesses like yours.
  • Arrange a site visit to get a better idea of their experience level and customer service.

Once you’ve found the right contractor, booking in regular inspections is the best way forward. This will reduce the risk of issues arising out of the blue. It will also establish an ongoing relationship, ensuring you have priority when any repairs are needed.

Don’t cut corners

Last but certainly not least, don’t cut corners when it comes to the warning signs of electrical fire. Fires can cause human harm or even fatalities, along with the massive cost to your business in terms of damage, disruption, legal costs and reputation.

While it might seem easier to put off repairs or cheaper to opt for the less reputable contractor, it’s really not worth it in the long run.

Minimising electrical fire risks with Volta Compliance

Volta Compliance can protect your business from electrical fires by carrying out electrical testing and inspection, and ensuring problems are repaired. If you want to eliminate warning signs of electrical fire, contact us on 0113 397 1361 or email [email protected] to arrange your electrical inspection.

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.