With all the cooking that goes on in kitchens, it’s probably not a surprise to hear that the kitchen is a common source of house fires. But some of the fire hazards present in your kitchen may not be the most obvious. Awareness, correct usage, care, and maintenance are key to avoiding these potential fires. Here are four fire hazards to guard against in your kitchen.
- Heating Elements
Your oven and stovetop aren’t the only appliances that harbor heating elements. You also have to watch out for toasters and, less obviously, dishwashers. You’d never leave your home while the oven is on, but you might not stop to think about the dishwasher’s heating element as you’re running out the door.
The dishwasher has a heating element in the bottom to boost water temperature so dishes can get even cleaner. But such a concentrated source of heat can also melt and burn plastic. And because it has electrical components, a manufacturing defect or some type of damage could cause an electrical short that could cause a fire as well.
To avoid these fires, stick around whenever an appliance with a heating element is turned on, even the dishwasher. Remember, an electrical fire can also be a potential source of electrocution. If you notice a burning smell and suspect electrical involvement, stay away from the appliance and immediately switch power off at the breaker, then call for help.
- Refrigerator Components
Your refrigerator has a number of electrical components that can fail and start a fire. If the refrigerator compressor’s electrical relay overheats, for example, an electrical fire can result. Maintain your refrigerator regularly and keep it clean so flammable lint doesn’t build up, reducing the chances of overheating, failures, and ignition.
Refrigerator fire hazards are compounded by the fact that many refrigerators are made using plastic material for the backs, which often burns much more easily than a metal back would. Check to see if your unit has been recalled and when choosing a new refrigerator, look for one with a metal back.
- Microwave Sparking
Although it doesn’t have a traditional heating element as the oven and dishwasher do, your microwave does cook food and can deal with very high temperatures. This can cause fires if a flammable material such as paper is inside. But electrical sparking can occur too, starting an electrical fire.
Of course, because the microwave also has electrical components, it could have an electrical fault as well. Never try to perform a DIY microwave repair; this is extremely hazardous (a microwave can electrocute you even when it’s not plugged in) and could increase the chances of electrical problems later.
If you suspect an electrical problem with your microwave, have it repaired professionally or simply replace it.
- Outlets and Wiring
Arc faults inside the walls can cause fires in the kitchen as well as anywhere in your home, but the kitchen is one of the spots where GFCI outlets are required to protect against electrical shocks. AFCI protection is similar but targets arc faults. AFCI protection is now required in kitchens, but if you don’t have an extremely new home, yours may only have GFCI outlets.
Arc faults often start electrical fires, which is why it’s so important to have AFCI protection installed as well as GFCI protection. Contact your electrician to learn about installing dual protection to avoid kitchen fires.
These are just four common fire hazards that are likely present in your kitchen. Fortunately, good maintenance, common sense, and professional electrical work can help you avoid kitchen fires in many cases. To learn more about electrical safety or how we can help you keep your kitchen’s electrical wiring and outlets up to date, get in touch with A To Z Electric Company.