Every year, fires destroy properties worth millions of dollars, causes casualties and even death. In France alone, about 10,000 casualties and 400 lives are lost every year due to fire related issues. The same thing is happening all over the world. Most of these fires are avoidable but many of us prefer to ignore the impending dangers.
Electricity is the main cause of residential fires. Electricity accounts for at least 25% of fires around the world and 80% of residential fires. In fact, death by electrical fires is three times higher than that of electrocution. A study conducted in the United Kingdom back in 2011-2012 showed that dwelling fires accounted for over 11,000 injuries and close to 300 fatalities. Yet, electrocution awareness is much more publicized than electrical fires.
How do electrical fires start?
Electrical fires can originate from different places such as an overloaded circuit, equipment malfunction, an overloaded extension cord, an overheated washer, light bulb, dryer, space heater or any other appliance. Circuit breakers are installed in an electrical system to help avert some of these problems. For instance, a circuit breaker can prevent an overload or a short circuit from turning into a fire. Similarly, a 300-mA-rated residual current device can prevent a ground fault current from heating up and igniting any construction material.
Other ways electrical fires start include hot downlighters, consumer units and fake phone chargers. Halogen downlighters can reach a maximum of 200°C and can burn anything combustible they meet. Therefore, it is essential that you ensure that the downlighter lamp gets enough ventilation. This way the lamp is able to give out enough heat to the surrounding thereby reducing the chance of a possible electrical fire. You can also fit the downlighter with a fire hood to prevent it from overheating. Instead of using halogen downlighters, hire a local electrician Melbourne to install LED downlighters as they do not pose any risk of igniting a fire.
The causes discussed above are well known, however, there is another cause that is less common it is known as an electric arc fault.
What is an electric arc fault?
Arc faults are unintentional discharges of electricity in a given circuit. An electric arc fault occurs when a current sways from its intended path and instead it travels through a damaged insulation. There are only two kinds of electric arc faults and these include:
Parallel arc faults: As the current flows through a damaged insulation from one conductor to the other, it causes a short circuit that is too weak that even a circuit breaker cannot detect it. The current, otherwise known as the leakage current, eases its way through the damaged insulation by traveling in arcs.
Series arc faults: if a wire is badly damaged such that it cannot withstand a current, the current arcs across the gaps and into the insulation.
How do electric arc faults form?
As the arcs heat, they gradually carbonize the insulation and eventually causes the carbonized insulation to ignite. The arcs are generated by the leaking current and they later on carbonize the insulation.
What are the main causes of an electrical arc fault?
Ageing installations, faulty appliances, loose wiring and overloaded plug outlets top the list of the main cause of electrical arc faults. An aged or damaged insulation can also cause an electrical fault and so do damaged conductors. The high number of electronics that are always plugged in the socket increases the chances of damaging the insulation. It is difficult to know when an electrical arc occurs; however, you can hire a local electrician Melbourne to install an arc fault detection device (AFDD) into your system.
What is an AFDD?
An AFDD is a device that is specially designed to protect your circuit against electric arc faults. It is designed in such a way that if it detects a dangerous electric arc it automatically trips the circuit. They are easy installed into an electrical panel alongside other protective equipment. Preferably, install an AFDD into the most vulnerable circuit.
AFDDs are highly sensitive and can distinguish between working arcs and dangerous arcs. They are equipped with a specially algorithm that enables them to differentiate the two and respond to only the dangerous arcs. This is very important because if the AFDDs become too sensitive they could trip a circuit even with the slightest detection of an arc.
AFDDs constantly analyze patterns in voltage waveforms and electrical currents. They are always on the lookout for any anomalies and in case of one; they trip the circuit quickly isolating it from the rest. Speed is very essential in these devices as an arc could easily ignite a fire.
The safety of your home is very important therefore, if you find a way to keep it safe from electrical fires just do it. Although it might cost you to install the necessary precaution measures, it will be worth every penny. Simply contact a professional electrician and get started with the safety measures.