6 Appliances that Cause the Most Fires
The annual number of home fires in the US is staggering. Local fire departments across the country reported to nearly 45,000 home fires that resulted from electrical malfunction between 2012 and 2016. Appliances can cause a house fire, with six potentially causing more fires than others.
Malfunctioning home appliances are not only a nuisance—they are a danger. Even the most common appliances can be a fire hazard if the homeowner is not careful. For example, allowing the appliances to run while no one is home can spark a house fire.
The National Fire Protection Agency reports that in 2015, home fires caused by appliances led to $7 billion in property losses. Structural damage was not the only outcome. Approximately 13,000 injuries were sustained. Home fires were so commonplace that one was reported every 63 seconds.
A refrigerator is cold, making it unthinkable that the appliance can catch fire. However, its interior parts, such as the compressor, can overheat and spark. When the electrical components inside the refrigerator catch fire, the surrounding plastic serves as an abundant fuel source for a catastrophic blaze.
Fridges automatically cycle on and off for years, and parts undergo wear and tear. Worn out compressors and relay switches are the primary causes of refrigerators catching fire. Consumer Reports found that 1.6 million Maytag refrigerators were recalled in 2009 due to an electrical failure in the relay.
A dishwasher is built with heating elements that dry clean dishes. The heating elements mingle with water, become heated and cool down with every cycle. Faulty heating elements can spark a house fire. Consumer Reports found that 2.5 million GE dishwashers were recalled in 2007 due to a short circuit.
Experts agree that homeowners should never leave the home while the dishwasher is running. Also avoid running the dishwasher overnight. Register the appliance to be notified of recalls. Repair any broken components to prevent water leaking over the internal wires and sparking a fire.
Every year over 16,000 house fires are caused by clothes dryers and washing machines. Ignition mostly occurs when the dryer’s lint trap accumulates excessive lint. Cleaning the lint trap often is the easiest and most effective way to prevent a dryer fire.
Additionally, the heating elements inside the dryer and the parts inside the washing machine’s drum are capable of igniting (through no fault of the homeowner). Fire safety requires that the homeowner always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid overloading either appliance.
The stovetop and oven are necessities for food preparation. But unattended stoves and ovens can lead to a kitchen fire. Malfunctioning stoves and ovens are also fire hazards. Failing to regularly clean the stove and oven can potentially cause a raging home fire.
Data from the National Fire Protection Agency shows that 31 percent of home cooking fires between 2014 and 2018 were due to unattended equipment. Unclean appliances led to 8 percent of house fires; and turning on the appliance but not turning it off resulted in 8 percent of house fires.
Of all reported cooking fires, 61 percent were due to ranges or cooktops. Electric ranges lead to a greater risk for a house fire than gas ranges. While cooking fires peak during Christmas and Thanksgiving, a stovetop can spark a fire any day of the year.
Microwaves are responsible for four percent of cooking fires. Overheated food items are a common cause of microwave fires. Metal pieces in food packaging heated inside the microwave can ignite and lead to a fire. Improper items heated inside a microwave can also spark flames.
Homeowners should be aware that heating recycled paper products in the microwave is unadvisable, since these items may contain minute traces of metal flecks—which can ignite. Always monitor the microwave when heating popcorn kernels; heat buildup can lead to a fire.
Malfunctioning toasters, like those that fail to turn off, are a fire hazard. Consumers have reported setting the timer and the timer fails to turn off. Due the risk of fire, always monitor the toaster when it is turned on; unplug the toaster when it is not in use.
While toasters are useful for toasting bread and bagels, the crumbs from these food items should be cleaned out regularly to prevent a fire during normal use. Also inspect the electrical elements; remove any crumbs that have become stuck to these elements.
Although appliances are a convenience, homeowners are advised to take ample precautions when letting them run. A practical fire safety measure is to turn off the appliances when no one is at home. Smaller appliances may be unplugged when not in use.
After purchasing any new appliances, register the product with the manufacturer. Homeowners who register new appliances will be notified of any recalls and can take steps to keep the home safe. Clean appliances regularly and inspect the electrical cords that feed power to the units.
Professional Fire Damage Restoration Services
Fire safety is every homeowner’s responsibility. Despite using appliances carefully, a fire can break out. When you are confronted with fire damage, consult ServiceMaster EMT. Our fire damage restoration experts will return your damaged home or business to its pre-loss condition fast.
The eruption of flames is not the only worry home and business owners will face. Fires lead to smoke and soot damage, which causes secondary damage to belongings and building materials. Marble, wood and aluminum will suffer permanent discoloration and etching if not addressed promptly.
ServiceMaster EMT technicians arrive quickly after your call to assess the damage and develop a fire damage restoration plan. Our comprehensive restoration services include emergency pre-cleaning, wall, ceiling and upholstery cleaning, carpet cleaning, smoke and soot cleaning and odor removal.
Home and business owners with properties in southern California and Nevada, are urged to call ServiceMaster EMT as soon as the fire is extinguished. Our professional and reliable fire damage restoration crews respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.