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An Electrical Inspection Survey
This electrical survey has been designed to help you "switch on" to possible hazardous situations and to help you use electricity and electrical products safely. Answer each question honestly. If you cannot answer one of the survey questions, you may decide to ask a licensed electrician to investigate.
Wall Outlets & Switches
- 1. Are all outlets and switches working properly?
- 2. Are all outlets and switches cool to the touch?
- 3. Have you ever noticed sparks from appliances, switches, or wall outlets?
- 4. Do any of your lights flicker or dim frequently?
- If you answered "No" to question 1 or 2, or "Yes" to question 3 or 4, an unsafe wiring condition may exist. An electrician should be asked to inspect.
Circuit Breakers & Fuses
- Do you have a circuit breaker that continually trips or a fuse which continually burns out?
If "Yes," you are overloading a circuit. Do not use a larger circuit breaker or fuse until an electrician can inspect. A larger breaker or fuse can create overheated wiring causing a short circuit and electrical fire.
- What size circuit breaker or fuses do you have? (15, 20, 30 amp)
Circuit breakers or fuses with a rating of 30 amps or larger should be questioned as to what is being supplied.
- Is your home wired with any aluminum wiring?
Aluminum wiring does present a potential fire hazard. It will not carry the same "load" as copper wiring. It is likely to oxidize which results in heat buildup and possible hot spots, especially where wiring terminates at switches, receptacles, and splices. Check your fuse or circuit breaker box. The wiring may be visible and will be silver in color. If you have aluminum wiring, call an electrician to investigate.
- If you have circuit breakers, do you periodically turn them on and off?
The mechanism should be exercised to keep in good working order.
- Was your home "wired" by a friend, relative, or someone who was not a licensed electrician?
If "Yes," we highly recommend you contact a licensed electrician for an electrical inspection.
Electrical Appliances & Products
- Is your home over thirty years old?
A home over forty years old is three times more likely to have an electrical fire than a home less than twenty years old.
- If "Yes," has the wiring been updated or recently inspected?
- Do you have any fixtures with bulbs in excess of 75 watts?
Using large wattage light bulbs can be dangerous. Many fixtures recommend bulbs no larger than 60 watts. Check "hooded" fixtures which trap heat.
- Do you have recessed ceiling lighting?
If "Yes," check the fixture from the attic side and be sure all insulation is away from and not in contact with the bulb or elements of the fixture.
- Are extension cords placed out of traffic areas and free of furniture resting on them?
- Are any extension cords attached to the wall or floor with staples or nails?
- Are any extension cords placed under rugs or drapes?
Extension cords are easily damaged when stepped on or crushed. This can lead to a short circuit, overheating of wires and eventual fire. If the cord is under a rug or drapes and overheats, it can cause other combustible objects to catch fire.
Insure Your Safety
As an added safety precaution, install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home. Smoke alarms should be installed in the hallways leading to any bedrooms and one for the attic. A smoke detector in the attic is important because this is where electrical fires frequently start. Install an ABC Multipurpose Dry Chemical fire extinguisher. The extinguisher should be installed where it is easily accessible and easily seen, and make sure everyone in your household knows how to use it.
If any question regarding wiring, circuit breakers, fuse boxes, or wall outlets and switches has alerted you to a condition in your home which seems to be a potentially hazardous situation, call a licensed electrician immediately for an inspection. Your cost for an inspection will vary but usually amounts to just pennies a day. Cost of an inspection should not prevent you from calling an electrician if there is any doubt about the safety of your electrical system. An inspection may save your property and life from fire destruction.
Today's home is filled with many electrical appliances which were virtually unknown thirty years ago. While these appliances provide us with conveniences, they also place a strain on homes built over thirty years ago, as wiring systems back then were not designed for these appliances. The following products use 1,000 to 1,500 plus watts: window air conditioners, portable heaters, clothes washers, dishwashers, hair dryers, clothes irons, and microwaves. Any two of these appliances plugged into the same outlet (or same circuit) and used at the same time can create an overload, depending on the wiring system.
So, if your home was built thirty or more years ago, or wired by someone other than a licensed electrician, or if you have discovered any potentially dangerous situations in your wiring, please consider having a licensed electrician inspect your wiring. It could save your life!
Please Note: These suggested safety precautions are provided as a Farm Bureau member service. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas, Inc. does not assume or accept any liability for damages resulting from the use of this information.