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Your home needs electricity to function correctly, but some electrical hazards can cause fires and electrocution. Read on to learn how to recognize common electrical hazards to keep your family and home safe.

7 Most Common Electrical Hazards in Homes

There are several electrical hazards every homeowner should be aware of.

Frayed Electrical Cords and Wirings

If the protective insulation on wires wears away or frayed wires puncture through, it leaves wires exposed. Rats and mice can also damage the wiring in homes.

Damaged and outdated wiring will often overheat, melt and corrode, increasing the risk of fire.

Extension Cord Issues

multiple wires plugged into surge protector

Homeowners often make mistakes with extension cords and increase their risk of fire. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Never plug multiple extension cords into one another. This is called “daisy-chaining,” and it poses a fire risk.
  • Never use a power strip for an extension cord. Extension cords should only be plugged into a wall outlet or hard-wired power strip. 
  • Never use extension cords that exceed the power needs of the appliances or equipment.
  • Don’t use indoor extension cords outside as they have no moisture protection.

Misused Power-Strips and Surge Protectors

Power strips and surge protectors are for small electronics such as cellphones, tablets, and computers, and they are not intended for electronics with high-power loads. Even small appliances can draw too much power for a power strip.

When too much power is drawn from power strips or surge protectors, it can start a fire. Don’t plug surge protectors into one another, and be sure to use power strips properly.

Outlet Overloads

If too many appliances are plugged into a single outlet, it can draw too much power. Plugging multiple power strips into one another can also overload an outlet.

Overloading an outlet’s capacity can cause a power surge or fire. If you consistently need to plug multiple items into one outlet, hire an electrician to install additional outlets.

Open Outlets and Appliances Too Close To Water

a baby reaches for an outlet

Open outlets in your home can lead to accidental electrocution. Children especially may reach into or stick something into an open outlet and get an electrical shock.

Since water conducts electricity, handling plugged-in appliances or light switches with wet hands is dangerous. Touching outlets and electrical appliances close to water also increases electrocution risk.

Old and Outdated Electrical Wiring

Outdated wiring can increase the risk of electrical fires. Examples of old wiring include:

  • Knob & Tube Wiring
  • Aluminum Wiring
  • Cloth Insulating Sleeves
  • Old Electrical Panels

A circuit breaker that continually trips, lights that frequently go dim or flicker, discolored switch plates, and outlets that are warm to the touch are some of the signs something is wrong with your wiring.


pendant lighting

When you use a light bulb with a wattage too high for a fixture, it is called overlamping. The socket can get hot enough to melt and start a fire.

Always determine bulb wattage for any fixture.


According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical arcing faults cause more than 30,000 home fires each year. Taking precautions can help avoid fire or costly repairs caused by an electrical surge or shortage.

If you’ve seen any signs of an electrical problem, contact the Richmond certified electricians from US Electric right away.