Electrical Wiring Presents Fire Danger - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Electrical Wiring Presents Fire Danger

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YAKIMA--Three fires caused by bad wiring in the last month.  We talked with electricians and firefighters to find out how people can keep their electrical systems up and running without any problems.

Homeowners might be doing everything they're supposed to:  space heaters are in safe places, there aren't too many extension cords being used.  Despite all that. you may still be at risk for an electrical fire.

Many electrical systems just can't keep up with our constantly-advancing society.

"The electrical demands now are much higher than what they used to be," Ron Melcher, Yakima Fire Department, said.  "Half the homes in this country were built before 1973."

That demand is too much for some systems, especially during the winter time.  Electricians say some people search for a quick fix by overriding the breaker box's trip mechanism.

"They'll put in larger fuses than are supposed to be in that type of circuit," Glenn Faulkner, Total Control Electric, said.  "They have a 20-amp circuit [and] they might be putting in a 30-amp screw-in fuse.  They're trying to save themselves money by doing that.  But, in the long run, they're just overloading the wiring and when the wiring gets overloaded, insulation gets brittle.  They're just looking for problems.

Electrical fires like Friday morning's can be avoided by checking up on breakers.

Faulkner has a breaker that's been under too much strain.

"You can see where it's burnt," Faulkner said.  "That's definitely been overloaded for a period of time, when breakers and fuses and those items do get old, they start to fail."

Melcher said firefighters are wearing down from the high number of fires in Yakima this winter.   He hopes people try to put less strain on their systems.  Maybe then there will be fewer fires to fight.

"If the building is older, then they've got a lot more draw on the system than they used to have," Melcher said.  "If there's one flaw in the system, it's going to be exposed."