Vertex Mechanical’s HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical Blog

Fire Hazard Circuit Breakers

Electricity is a wonderful tool when used properly — it brings us the modern marvels of electric lights, microwaves, televisions, and the internet. However, outdated electrical equipment, particularly circuit breakers, can pose a legitimate fire hazard.

Tragically, more than 50,000 homes in the United States burn down every year from electrical fires. Outdated circuit breakers are the culprit for the majority of these fires.

As the local electrical expert, Vertex Mechanical makes it our mission to warn homeowners in PA about the dangers of electrical fires. Keep electricity a marvel, not a hazard — and make sure that your electrical system is in top shape.

Outdated Circuit Breakers

Fortunately for most people, the most hazardous circuit breakers were taken off the market long before their homes were built. However, if your house was built in the sixties, seventies, or eighties, it may use dangerous components. All outdated circuit breakers are NOT a fire hazard — but the rate of failure is higher than what it should be. That’s why we recommend having a qualified electrician perform an electrical safety inspection.

home electrical box

Another factor that makes a fire caused by your circuit breaker so potentially devastating is that they are typically stored in out-of-the-way locations, such as garages and basements. When one catches fire, it can be a long time before homeowners notice the signs.

Why Are These Circuit Breakers Dangerous?

To understand how circuit breakers can become a hazard, you need to understand their crucial position in your home electrical system.

The electricity you use for everything in your home — from appliances to your cell phone charger — passes through your circuit breaker. Designed to prevent electrical fires, circuit breakers trip offline — thus cutting the power — when the voltage exceeds a safe level. If the excessive voltage is allowed to continue, the electrical wiring begins to overheat, eventually turning red-hot and bursting into flame.

home appliances in kitchen

Any damaged or malfunctioning circuit breaker can fail to trip offline, creating a fire hazard. However, for most models of circuit breakers, these cases are rare.

Dangerous circuit breakers can malfunction in multiple ways:

  • The circuits in some discontinued panels have the unfortunate tendency to melt right onto the circuit board, creating an electrical current that physically CAN’T be interrupted.
  • Other circuit breakers are notorious for failing to trip offline, even when the voltage tripled or quadrupled the safe amount. If you examine one of these units while they are overheating, you’d be able to feel the radiant heat and see the circuits glowing bright red.

Upgrading Your Electrical System

While some outdated circuit breakers are dangerous fire hazards, the vast majority of outdated electrical components are just a nuisance.

Older circuit breakers tend to trip offline more often than you’d like, but that is an example of the circuit breaker working properly to keep you safe. However, we understand that it is frustrating to have to reset your breaker every week.

Any appliance that draws a hefty amount of electricity can cause the breaker to trip, but a hairdryer is one of the most notorious culprits in many households.

hairdryer breaker trip

Upgrading your electrical system to one designed with the electrical needs of the 21st century is a way to ensure your breaker can safely provide the electricity you use on a daily basis.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of upgrading your electrical system, give us a call. We will explain the benefits and costs associated with the upgrade.

Vertex Mechanical: Your Electrical Safety Experts

If you think there’s a chance that your home is harboring dangerous electrical components, be cautious. While not every discontinued and outdated component will start a fire, the rate is higher — and that’s not something we like to see. Contact us for a complete electrical safety inspection to enjoy total peace-of-mind.

At Vertex Mechanical, we’re not a chain and our electricians don’t make commissions by hard selling you service you don’t really need. Instead, we offer the electrical safety solutions to ensure your home and family are safe.

Start a conversation to learn more.

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