Power Strip Fire Hazard

(system) #1

I have just had an inspection from my local fire departmemt and decided to check out their claims.

They have requested that I remove all or most of the power strips in my house for the following reason … and their explanation though it sounds reasonable, is not mentioned in the information I have read on your site.

They said the power strip (with or without surge protection) forces the house wiring (inside the walls) to supply more power than was intended. They say the wires to an outlet with 2 plugs are only designed to handle the power for 2 items and using a power strip could overheat the wiring and cause a potential fire in my home.

Does this sound like a real possibility to you and if so could you please add this information to your warnings so others can know the danger they pose.

Thank you,
shari.galley@gmail.com

(Joshua L. Frederick) #2

Power Strips: Their Uses and Hazards - InterNACHI

(Marcel R. Cyr, CMI) #3

Power strip use should not always be put out as a negative.

They are designed to make the use of small appliances more convenient.
A good explanation of their use is explained here;

How to Properly Use a Power Strip | Maryland Electrical Company

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #4

That would not be correct.

Power is not forced through the strip, it is “drawn” through it.

The amount of power going through the strip is determined by the devices attached and turned on, which can draw more current through the strip than intended for that device.

If you have six 15 amp devices plugged into a power strip and you decide to turn them all on at once, the rated 15 amp wall outlet can not take the draw and will become a heater and burn up.

You have to use the brains God gave you to not do this.

It is not a Home Inspectors job to keep people from being stupid. It’s your responsibility to read the instruction on the device and comply (or not use it in the first place).

(Scott A. Simpson) #5

Your fire departments claims were fundamentally sound. Perhaps their explanation of, (or your understanding of their explanation) the issues surrounding power strips was not technically correct. Even if their technical explanation may have been slightly off base their message was true. Many fires each year are attributed to overheating/failure of power strips that are overloaded. Any firefighter that has been on the job for any length of time has been to fires resulting from overloaded power strips and has likely responded to a number of close calls where the power strip overheated and melted.
Being aware of the risks involved with these devices can go a long way toward fire prevention. That being said from a public safety perspective we have to assume that people will not always use products in a prudent manner.