Electricians warn against overloading circuits
Overloading circuits is hazardous and can potentially ignite a fire. (Photo by Angie's List member Natalie E.)
According to a recent report by the U.S. Fire Administration, home fires spike during December and January as a result of the increased use of home heating devices, lighting and holiday decorations.
The same report lists “overloading circuits” as one of the main causes of these fires. An overloaded circuit is essentially when an electrical wire or circuit carries more amperage than it can handle. As an electrical wire becomes overloaded, it will start to heat up. If it becomes hot enough, it can melt through its casing and start a fire.
Unfortunately, many homeowners overload circuits on a daily basis, and in many instances, don’t even realize they are doing it. Angie’s List asked Pasquale Ceriello, field manager at highly rated Ceriello Electric in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Steve Breton, owner of Breton Electric in Wakefield, Mass., about overloaded circuits in customer’s homes.
When you make routine service calls, do you notice a lot of overloaded circuits in customer’s homes?
Ceriello: Yes, we find this frequently in homes, especially in rentals and homes that are decorated for the holidays. We try and just inform the customers that it’s not safe and tell them to redistribute loads or suggest adding new outlets around the home.
Breton: Yes. Older kitchens typically do not have enough dedicated appliance circuits to accommodate our modern gadgetry. Also, often lacking is a dedicated GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) circuit adjacent to the bathroom basin (required by code) so as to accommodate turbo-charged hair dryers and other grooming tools.
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