How to Troubleshoot Unexpected Electrical Fires in Your Home

Electrical fires can happen at any time and catch homeowners off guard. As terrifying as it is to deal with a fire in your home, there are things you can do to troubleshoot and prevent future fires. This guide will walk you through how to identify causes, protect your home, and create an action plan in case the worst happens.

Inspect Your Electrical System

The first step is to thoroughly inspect your home's electrical system to uncover any issues that could cause a fire.

Check the Electrical Panel

The main circuit breaker and fuse box is the central hub of your home's electrical system. Here's what to look out for:

Inspect Outlets and Switches

Outlets and switches are other common sources of electrical fires. When inspecting them:

Check Cords and Plugs

Faulty cords and plugs cause around 4,500 home fires per year according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Look out for:

Address Fire Hazards

Once you've inspected your electrical system, take steps to correct any hazards uncovered:

Upgrade Outdated Wiring

If your home still has old knob-and-tube wiring, it's critical to upgrade it to modern NM electrical cable. This older wiring is extremely fire-prone.


Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are smart circuit breakers that shut off power when dangerous arcing occurs. Have an electrician install them for added protection against fires. Focus on bedroom and kitchen circuits first.

Practice Electrical Safety

Practice habits like:

Create a Fire Escape Plan

Despite best efforts, electrical fires can still occur. That's why it's crucial to have an escape plan.

Install Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are your first line of defense, alerting you to a fire as soon as it starts. Install them on every level of the home and inside each bedroom. Test them monthly and replace batteries yearly.

Have Fire Extinguishers Ready

Keep ABC type fire extinguishers in easily accessible areas, like the kitchen, bedrooms, and hallways. Make sure everyone knows how to use them if needed. Focus on extinguishing small fires - don't try to take on large flames.

Know Your Escape Routes

Map out at least two ways to exit every room in an emergency and practice them with your family. Choose a safe outdoor meeting spot. Know where to go for help if you can't extinguish a fire yourself.

Assistance for Vulnerable People

If you have young children, elderly residents, or people with limited mobility in your home, assign someone to assist them in an emergency evacuation. Make any necessary accommodations for their safe exit.


Electrical fires are a real threat, but you have the power to protect your home. By regularly inspecting your electrical system, addressing hazards, and preparing escape plans, you can troubleshoot issues before they turn into tragedy. Put these tips into action for added peace of mind. With the right precautions, you can keep your home and family safe.