Primary causes of electrical risks as a function of age of home

1. Handyman tampering accounts for vast majority of electrical fires

chart, handyman tampering

The vast majority of dangerous risks are the result of Handyman tampering, that being unqualified electrical work taking place. The risks accumulate over the years resulting in older homes posing far greater risk than new homes, as can be seen in the graph above

Commonly found hazards include:

  • Undersized extension cords stapled to the wall
  • Electrical connections in direct contact with wood (not in a junction box)
  • Over-rated fuses and circuit breakers
  • Poor connections (loose, or without approved wire insulators)
  • Incorrect garage overhead/underground conductors
  • Baseboard heaters installed in hazardous locations

2. Deterioration of electrical system with age accounts for 17% of electrical fires

chart-deteriorating electricals

Deterioration of electrical installation with age accounts for about 17% of electrical fires (source: US Consumer Product Safety Commission). Examples include:

  • Detached "service conductor support" (found in 3% of pre-homes surveyed, all homes pre-1950)
  • Circuit breakers cracked or broken
  • Frayed service conductors
  • Detached/deteriorated ground connection
  • Dust build up in panel (frequent)
  • Tree branches causing pressure on service conductors (frequent)
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