CPSC Staff Suggests That Homeowners Check Electrical Wiring For Potential Fire Hazards

February 6, 1980
Release Number: 80002

As part of its efforts to ensure that consumers save energy safely, the staff of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned consumers of the potential fire hazard associated with home electrical systems.

In view of the national need to conserve energy, CPSC staff has emphasized that homeowners should have their electrical systems checked by a qualified individual before installing thermal insulation.

In a recent briefing session before the Commissioners, CPSC staff also stressed that faulty wiring by itself must be considered as a fire hazard with or without the presence of thermal insulation. CPSC estimates that more than 2,000 household fires occur every year when thermal insulation is ignited by faulty wiring or lighting fixtures. This figure amounts to about three per cent of the estimated 75,000 electrical system fires which occur annually in American homes.

CPSC staff believes that the fire potential from damaged wiring or over-fused circuitry is greatly increased when the heat given off by the wiring (which normally is dissipated through free air circulation) is confined by thermal insulation.

The Commission endorses the efforts of consumers to conserve energy and lower their fuel expenditures, but also advises homeowners to have their wiring inspected in areas where the insulation is to be installed. A qualified individual should check for signs of deterioration and ensure that the fuses and circuit-breakers are of the proper size to provide protection.

Before installing any thermal insulation, consumers first should look for any signs of electrical wiring problems. These may include the frequent blowing of fuses or tripping of circuit-breakers, flickering of light bulbs, or electric outlet covers or switch plates which become hot.

In addition to informing consumers of the need to insulate safely by ensuring that their electrical wiring is in good repair, CPSC staff intends to work with other federal, state and local agencies and electric code officials to promote electrical wiring safety in energy conservation programs across the country.