Overheated electrical systems are fire hazards unless upgrades are implemented

369,000 household fires were reported in 2005 alone

DENVER, CO - Household electrical fires are more of a common occurrence than most people would like to think. Like any older residential area in a city, the homes in central Denver tend to be 60-80-100 years old, complete with archaic electrical wiring systems running throughout the house. Between air conditioners blowing hard during the summers and space heaters working overtime during the winters, these systems truly don’t live up to today’s standards.

Every day across the country fires are sparked, sometimes fatal. Typically residential fires are due to faulty electrical wiring, says Gary Stone, president of Allstar Electrical Services in Denver, Colorado, electrical contractors serving Colorado’s front range. Residential and commercial, industrial electrical work and remodeling are all within Allstar’s menu of services. Honored five times already in 2007 for exceptional construction work, quality and performance by the construction industry leaders, Allstar has replaced the electrical service to a lot of older homes and business in Denver plus replaced aluminum wiring and rewired homes bringing them into the world of technology by installing ample outlets.

With all of the appliances, iPod boomboxes, computers and electric rollers at work in our modern-day life, old outlets are ticking fire hazards. When overloaded with extension chords and appliances, outlets become much more dangerous than one would like to believe. The U.S. Fire Administration reported 396,000 residential fires, 3,055 deaths, 13,825 injuries, and $6.8 billion in damages in 2005 alone. So, not only are these fires deadly and tragic, but costly too.

Fire Investigator Dale Northurp said an extension cord overheated and ignited several nearby clothing items after the home's renters plugged in an air conditioning unit and overloaded the circuit.

"It's more common than we think," Northurp said.

Earlier, Yakima firefighters handled a house fire about 6:30 p.m. on the 1300 block of Willow Street. Battalion Chief Mitch Cole said the electrical wiring sparked a blaze inside the wall, catching it on fire and popping the electrical breakers. Although the rest of the house didn't ignite, he estimates damage at $15,000. No injuries were reported.

And there was little damage to the exterior of the Toppenish house and no injuries were reported, Northurp said. However, he added, all the family's belongings -- including furniture, clothing and electronics—were damaged by heat and smoke including the wallboards, an estimated $45,000 loss.

What can you do to protect your family from this same fate?

Gary Stone insists that homeowners should have an electrician test and review their older electrical system vs. risking fires breaking out in the walls where you wouldn’t even be able to see it until it had grown o an unwieldy size. An inspection like this, says Stone, would certainly identify the overloaded circuits, dangerous aluminum wiring, ground failures, power overloads, and lack of automatic fire alarms the likes of which are required in new construction.

While installing new electrical service to your older home and upgrading the electrical ports inside the home may not seem at the time like the most fun way to drop many thousands of dollars, the upgrades will make life easier, both by enhancing the amount of electrical appliances you can use all at once and by giving you peace of mind that your home is no longer a fire hazard.

One other benefit, adds Stone, is that a home that has been upgraded electrically inherently is worth more and can fetch a higher number when shown for sale than a home without the same upgrades, even if the other home is the same size.

“Two of the rooms in a home that appreciate when upgraded are the kitchen and bathroom,” says Stone. “Consider for a moment all of the electrical appliances you’ve accumulated over the years, every single one designed for convenience. Then there’s the irony that your older home electrical system is not set up to accommodate the convenience appliances all at once when they’re needed for something special like a holiday turkey dinner. So the conveniences become inconvenient for lack of an outlet.”

Heaps of extension cords should only be seen as an interim solutions, says Stone of the in-home studies he’s reconfigured using smart technology and thoughtful positioning of the outlets in the process. Building code today requires outlets every 10 feet, a conservative estimate really of the number of appliances a resident could likely plug in to use at one time or in one area of the home. And although so much of our technology is powered by batteries, the battery charger backup still must be plugged in to an outlet to recharge.

Protect yourself and your family by making sure your home’s electrical systems are up-to-date and not overloaded, adds Stone. You’ll net increased convenience at the same time.

Contact Gary Stone at www.allstarelectrical.com or call (303) 399-7420