According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were over 1.3 million fires throughout the country in 2017. These fires caused over $23 billion in losses ($13 billion excluding the Northern California wildfires).
House fires can spread at an alarming late, cause an extensive amount of damage when they happen, and injure or kill thousands of people every year. In order to prevent house fires, it’s vital to be aware of the leading causes and how to avoid them.
If you have experienced a fire in your home and need professional restoration services, please call us now at (720)-720-9594. Denver Flood Repair's network of restoration professionals are experts at performing the water damage restoration, smoke and soot removal, and the fire damage restoration services needed for restoring your home after a fire. When you call we will send a project manager to your home to provide you with a free estimate and walk you through the fire restoration and fire damage repair process.
The 10 Most Common Causes of House Fires
1. Cooking Accidents
Cooking fires are the number one cause of house fires and fire injuries. These are fires started mostly from the ignition of food or other cooking materials. Typical examples include grease fires, faulty cooking equipment, and an unattended range or cooktop.
To prevent cooking fires you should always remain attentive while cooking. Use a timer to remind yourself when it’s time to check on your food, turn off the stove when it’s not in use, and remove flammable materials such as paper towels and oven mitts away from your cooking area. If you are frying or cooking with grease, keep a lid nearby that can be used to smoother a grease fire. You should also keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
2. Heating Equipment
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of house fires in the US. Of these fires, space heaters or portable heaters are the leading cause ignition when they are placed too close to flammable materials. Improperly maintained chimneys and fireplaces are the second leading cause of heating fires. Chimney fires are caused by an excessive build of up soot and creosote on the inside of the chimney.
The majority of space heater fires can be prevented by simply not putting flammable materials such as furniture, curtains, clothing, mattresses, or other bedding too close to these heat sources. Denver has strict regulations regarding indoor wood burning and thus chimney fires are generally less of an issue here, but if you do have a permit for indoor wood burning, you should make sure your chimney is cleaned regularly.
3. Unintentional or Carelessness
Children playing with fire is another leading cause of house fires. Children with access to items such as lighters and matches are most likely to play with fire. 83% of fires resulting from play are caused by male children under the age of 12. Children under the age of 6 cause 43% of these fires. These fires can be prevented by teaching your children about fire safety and by keeping matches and lighters out of reach.
4. Electrical Equipment
Electrical failures or malfunctions are the forth most common reason for house fires. Electrical equipment with frayed cords can arch and spark a fire. Faulty wiring in your home appliances (dishwashers, washers, and dryers) are also leading causes.
You can prevent electrical fires by replacing any appliances or electrical equipment with frayed wiring. You should also never use light bulbs higher than the recommended wattage. Replace any two-prong electrical outlets with three-prong outlets that have a ground for power surges.
5. Open Flames
Candles are one of the leading causes of house fires caused by open flames. Candle fires are the most common during the holidays such as New Years and Christmas. Leaving candles lit while you are not at home or having flammable items in close proximity it a quick way to jump start a house fire.
The number one thing you can do to prevent a candle fire is to never place a candle near a flammable object. Other things you can do include never leaving a burning candle unattended, places candles on a sturdy surfaces, and keeping candles out of the reach of small children.
Cigarette butts can stay lit for hours if not out properly. The balcony or porch is the number one place where these fires get started followed by the bedroom and living room. You can prevent a smoking-related fire by making sure your cigarette is completely put out. You can do this by deposing of it in water when you’re done and by routinely cleaning out your ashtray.
7. Outdoor Grills
Fires from outdoor grills are common in the summer months. These fires are mostly from grills that have not been cleaned in a long time. Grill fires are also caused by grills that are placed too close to a wall or under a low-hanging ceiling. Charcoal grills can also cause fires if they are knocked over. It should be obvious from the above that the best way to prevent a grill fire is to clean your grill regularly and don't place it against the wall of your house or under and eave.
8. Appliance Failure
Appliance failure is another major cause of house fires. Clothes dryers cause 92% of the fires from appliance failure. Dryer fires are typically caused by clogged dryer vents or duct work. You can prevent these by cleaning your dryer vents and duct work regularly. If your dryer is no longer drying your clothes like it used to, it is a good sign that your dryer may be clogged with lint.
9. Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are meant to evoke a sense of joy, but every year these holiday decorations cause several hundred house fires. Christmas trees are incredibly flammable, especially if they are not well watered or they are kept up for a long time after the holidays. As a result, you should make sure they are well watered, don't leave them up for a long time after the holidays, never have an open flame near a Christmas tree, and make sure to unplug your lights when you aren't home or when you are sleeping. You should also make sure to keep your artificial Christmas tree unplugged when you aren’t home or are sleeping.
Wildfires have become an increasing cause of house fires in recent years. In 2017 and 2018 we saw massively destructive fires in California. In 2018 there was also a large fire near Basalt, CO that caused fire and smoke damage to a number of homes. If you live in the surrounding foothills of Denver your home could be susceptible to wildfires. To reduce your home's wildfire risk you should clear brush and other fire hazards from around your home and consider thinning your trees. This checklist from FEMA provides a comprehensive list of actions that homeowners can take to minimize the risk to their home. You can also monitor Denver wildfire activity here and have an escape plan in place for when these events do occur.
Additional Home Fire Safety Tips
Have An Emergency Escape Plan
Your family should have a fire escape plan in place. Your escape plan should include 2 exits from every room and an outside meeting place. If your home is located in the Denver foothills, you should also have a wildfire escape plan.
Keep Your Home’s Fire Safety Equipment Up-To-Date
Check your home's fire safety equipment regularly to make sure it is in working order. Check your fire extinguishers' pressure gauges every month. Fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 to 15 years. Fire extinguishers should be placed in several locations throughout your home. You should also be sure to regularly inspect your smoke alarms and replace the batteries when needed.
Water heater maintenance isn't something most people spend too much time thinking about. However, a quick annual inspection could end up saving your home from a disastrous flood and your wallet from a costly emergency water damage repair bill.
Being a homeowner comes with the responsibility of regularly inspecting and maintaining all of your home's appliances. This includes your washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, water heater, sump pump, and more. Appliance failure is a leading cause of water damage and house fires. In this article we will cover the appliances most susceptible to failure and the actions you can take to prevent them.
If you have experienced an appliance failure and need professional restoration services - including water removal, water damage restoration, smoke odor removal, or fire damage restoration - please call us at (720)-720-9594. We have years of experience helping customers recover from water and fire damage resulting from appliance failure. We have technicians on-call 24/7 and can have a crew at your home in 60-minutes or less.
Appliance failure can cause extensive damage
It is easy to overlook your appliances. Most come with a guarantee that they won’t need any repairs or replacements for a number of years. That kind of promise can lead to a false sense of confidence that nothing can go wrong. Unfortunately, there are many factors that can lead to appliance failure and shatter that sense of comfort. And when this happens, the damages can be expensive.
The failure of a water heater or washing machine can lead to extensive flooding and water damage to your home in a very short amount of time. On the other hand, slow leaks that go undiscovered can be equally or even more damaging. Slow leaks can cause an extensive amount of rot and even mold damage. On a national average, as much as 30% of all flood claims are from appliance failures.
Fire, Soot and Smoke Damage
House fires often start from overlooked appliance issues and can lead to extensive fire and smoke damage. In fact, there are nearly 3,000 dryer fires reported each year that cause more $35 million dollars in property damage. Roughly 1/3 of these fires could have been prevented by cleaning out clogged dryer vents and duct work.
The top-7 appliances susceptible to failure
Dishwashers often come with a decade-long warranty. However, these warranties don't cover things like an improperly installed water supply line or a clogged drain. The float switch in your dishwasher can wear down and break or the strainer can become clogged with food debris.
Most water damage claims from washing machines come from broken or damaged water supply hoses. When one of these supply lines breaks it can release up to 500 gallons of water per hour. If you're not home when this happens the damage can be extensive.
The dryer poses an even more dangerous threat when it’s not maintained. Simply cleaning out the lint filter between each load isn’t enough to negate dryer fires. Poor duct work or clogged air vents are a leading cause of dryer fires. If you notice that your dryer is taking longer to dry your clothes, you may have a clogged dryer vent.
Refrigerators and Ice Makers
Refrigerators and ice makers produce a lot of excess moisture and are prone to leaks that can result in flood damage to your home. Common causes are damaged or broken water supply lines as well as frozen or clogged drains.
Toilets have a useful life of 50 years or more and are not likely to fail themselves. However, water supply lines can fail or become damaged. The wax seal can wear out and leak overtime.
Sump pumps have a life expectancy of around 10 years. If a sump pump fails during a storm your basement or crawlspace could flood.
5-steps to prevent appliance failure
Step 1: Check Appliances Regularly
Simply keeping your eyes open and looking at the water connection lines, seals, drains, and other working pieces of your appliances can help you spot potential problems. Any signs of wear and tear, damage, corrosion, or leaks are a warning that your appliance may be about to fail.
Step 2: Clean Drains and Duct Work Regularly
If any of your appliances do not appear to be draining properly inspect the drains or drainage pipes for clogs. Inspect your dishwasher's strainer regularly to make sure it has not become clogged. Pay attention to whether your dryer has stopped worked as well as this could be a sign that your duct work has become clogged with lint.
Step 3: Follow Proper Maintenance Procedures
All of your appliances will have different maintenance requirements. You should check your owner's manuals to know what they are. For example, you should drain your water heater once per year to prevent the build up of any sediment that could cause corrosion.
Step 4: Shut Off Appliances When Not In Use
For example, if you are going to be leaving your house for an extended period of time it is a good idea to turn off the water supply lines to your washing machine. Also, you should never run the washer or dryer when you aren’t home.
Step 5: Schedule Annual Inspections
Having all of your appliances inspected once a year, especially if they are starting to get old, is the best way to avoid fire and flood damages from appliance failure.