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Prevent Home Electrical Fires


If you have too many devices that consume too much electricity in your home, it can lead to inadequate electrical capacity. These devices are new heating and cooling equipment, frost free refrigerators, clothes dryers, water heaters, electric ranges and ovens, dishwashers and other powerful electric motor driven tools and appliances.

The power supply may become inadequate as you add devices. There are indicators like fuses or circuit breakers that are tripping or lights dimming. It is time to look for circumstances before equipment failure, fire, or other problems.


* 5 Causes of Inadequate Power in Your Home *
1.Limited service panel capacity
The main service panel will likely fail, often, if the overall demand from electrical device is greater than the panel can supply. When there is excess demand, it indicates that the panel rating is less than needed or the panel might be limiting the capacity of devices that can be used because there is no more space for more fuses or circuit breakers.

You now need to make a circuit map to calculate the demand and compare it to the capacity of the main panel to the supply. If the power demand is less than the capacity and there is no more room for breakers, then you are ok, but you might want to think about a sub-panel. But if the overall demand is greater than the main panel ability to supply, then you need a licensed electrician to install a new main panel.


2. Overloaded circuits
A circuit map is to determine if the demand on the circuits is greater than the amperage rating of the circuit controlling it. Peak demands on appliances may draw more power on starting up and creating power surges that can trip breakers.

When lights dim when appliances turn on is still considered a power surge even though it does not trip the breaker. If appliances produce surges then they should have their own separate circuit designed to tolerate the surge.

Preventing fire in the electrical box, you must prevent the amperage from exceeding the safe limit set on the breaker. Overloaded circuits are evident when you have blown fuses and/or tripped breakers. You should not replace breakers with ones of higher amperage just because they fail. The best idea is to run a new circuit from the main panel that is within the supply circuit.

3. Insufficient number of outlets
Recommendations for installing outlets is to have one every 12 feet of wall space, but you should have ground fault interrupted outlets in the bathroom, exterior walls, and one for each counter top in the kitchen. When you start to use multi-outlet extension cords on a regular or permanent basis, it is an obvious indicator that more outlets are needed. There are low cost extension cords that are not designed to carry heavy amperage demanded of permanent wiring. These excess loads can cause overheating and fire.

Computer workstations will provide an outlet for two devices from a single dual receptacle wall circuit. Old CRT monitors and laser printers can cause surges when they are turned on. The best solution is to supply the required outlet on separate circuits designed to exceed the demand. For this problem, the best option is to use a fused and surge protected uninterrupted power supply (UPS) to protect the power supply. These units are now available for less than $100 and can protect your computer investment from power problems better than anything else. The less expensive power bars and extension cords can run the risk of equipment damage or fires if the circuit is overloaded.

4. Inadequate feeder lines
Original two-wire feed lines from the power company’s nearest utility pole. Older homes may have the two-line feed. One of the wires is hot, delivering 110-115 volts and the other is neutral. It is obvious these lines will not power 240 volt appliances nor is the amperage likely able to power more than a few newer appliances at a time.

The electric company should replace the two-wire system with a three wire system at their own expense. Since you will have to pay an electrician to install a new service panel, use the circuit map and any expansion plans to determine future demand, then size the new panel accordingly.

5. Overtaxed transformer
Electricity demands have increase over time in the older high-density neighborhoods. Transformers serving the area many not have been increased to meet the growth in demand. The power companies are required to scale up supply according to demand. It is wise to check into the matter before paying for a larger service.

Demand Side Management (DSM) refers to actions taken on the customer’s side of the meter to change the amount or timing of energy consumption. Utility programs offer measures that can reduce energy consumption and consumer energy expenses. Electrical DSM strategies have the goal of maximizing end-use efficiency to avoid or postpone the construction of new generating plants.

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