How Do House Fires Start at Night? What You Need to Know

Most homeowners have a gnawing fear of a house fire starting at night. 

If a house fire starts during the day, you can get you, your family, your pets, and the most important things out of your house. After that, you just need to address the aftermath. Night fires come without warning and can become large even before you are aware of them.

Most night-time house fires happen because of electricity. Here are some of the most common offenders:

  • Bad Wiring 
  • Space Heater Units
  • Decorative Lighting
  • Dryer Units
  • Old Surge Protectors

If you didn’t notice – which you probably did – most of these things involve electricity and heat. Wiring or electricity causes so many problems because of the heat they can produce. As to why causes related explicitly to heat, like space heaters and dryers, cause fires, that’s a little more self-explanatory. 

How Bad Wiring Can Start Fires

Our homes are filled with appliances that were mere dreams twenty years ago. Many devices we rely on require more power than older models.

Most home wiring has kept up with advancing technology. Modern houses are built with wiring that can channel more energy from the grid to match the requirements of more advanced appliances. 

Old wires don’t usually have the same capacity as newer wiring does. These wiring systems haven’t adapted to modern demand since they were made in an older time with different energy requirements and regulations.

Add that to how insulation may have decayed or the unreliable way wiring was once handled, and you get potential trouble.

As modern appliances try to draw more power from the energy grid, your wiring will become more unstable. Typically, this just manifests with breakers that trip easily. If you persistently overtax your wiring, the dated copper can start to overheat. These circumstances are where you risk starting a fire.

Old wiring can spark fires in your walls or cause surges that ignite power outlets. If your home is relatively new, you’re probably safe! If not, having an electrician check your house out never hurts.

Why Space Heaters Can Be Dangerous

The winter is cold! Sure, the snow falling lightly outside looks nice, but when you feel like you need to be wearing your ski gear just to walk to the bathroom, you start to miss the blistering heat of summer!

Space heaters are a little drop of paradise in a frozen world. One or two are an affordable way to give yourself a little extra heat without bankrupting yourself with energy bills. 

Space heaters have one fairly substantial problem: they typically use superheated coils to create warm air. These coils are so hot that they will likely ignite any flammable object they contact! Most have safeguards, but keeping these safety practices in mind is best.

If you use a space heater at night, ensure it is in an open area. You don’t want your space heater to be nestled up cozily to anything flammable!

Be aware of where your space heater is. If your space heater is in an area but is liable to become obstructed – like next to a bed when you throw off a blanket – it becomes a liability. 

You should probably replace heating appliances more than a few years old if their continued use has worn out any electrical components. It is hard to know exactly when an appliance is past its prime, so it is better to be safe and replace older machines. 

Why You Should Be Worried About Decorative Lighting

You may think you’re an exception to the “decorative lighting” section, but this phrase is more encompassing than just holiday decorations. 

Decorative lighting can be anything.

Many homes have smaller lights installed to draw attention to certain parts of your home. These can be lights under cabinets, installed on bookshelves, or can be as simple as a wax warmer. These lights, especially older ones, produce a lot of heat and can cause a fire in the right circumstances.

If you want to eliminate the hazards of decorative lighting, swap old lights out for newer LED lights. 

The same should be applied to decorative lighting, especially around holiday times. Many Christmas trees have gone from beacons of light to pillars of destruction because of bad lighting and wiring! 

Be careful this year, and use lights that don’t produce much heat!

Why Dryers Light On Fire

Dryers can be the cause of house fires starting at night in two ways:

  1. They catch on fire due to a buildup of lint.
  2. Something inside becomes hot to the point of combustion.

Very few of the tens of millions of dryers currently operating in the United States catch fire. That’s not to say they are entirely safe. Many people know someone or have heard stories about dryer fires.

You can prevent these accidents with some easy maintenance. 

Most dryer fires happen when dryer lint isn’t regularly cleaned from the dryer. Be sure to periodically clean the lint filter and occasionally deep clean your dryer to remove dryer lint that may have gotten past the filter. 

When dryer lint builds up, it has a higher chance of making its way into your dryer’s heating element. Avoid this, and you will likely prevent a dryer fire.

The average homeowner shouldn’t worry about chemicals catching fire in the dryer. Generally, if you wash your items before you dry them, the flammable hazards will be washed out.

When Surge Protectors Become A Fire Hazard

The last item on our list is similar to the first.

You can use surge protectors and power strips to extend your outlet and prevent power surges from toasting your appliances. Their electrical components can handle more electric channels than your wall plugs can, but they wear out at least as quickly, if not faster. 

Be sure to replace your power strips and surge protectors every few years, and you should be safe from fires caused by one of these overheating or otherwise malfunctioning.

Get Help From Western Disaster Clean Up 

Cleaning up a house fire that started at night can be as dangerous as it is emotionally hard. Our trained professionals are on standby, ready to help you clean up the ashes and begin a new life. 

Contact us today for help cleaning up.

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