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How Your Appliances Can Become Fire Hazards

    Household appliances

    Household appliances

    If you’ve ever had your power go out in your Chicagoland home after a storm, didn’t it feel like you’d suddenly been thrust back to the dark ages?

    That’s because homes today are filled with electric lights, appliances, and gadgets that make our lives easier and provide us with entertainment. We usually don’t think much about them until they no longer work. But statistics show that we should because appliances do contain a level of danger.

    According to the National Fire Protection Agency(NFPA), there were 339,500 home fires reported in the U.S. in 2019 (3000 in Chicago alone). These resulted in 2,770 deaths, 12,200 injuries, and $7.8 billion in direct property damage. Of these, approximately 44,880 fires, 440 deaths, and $1.3 billion in damages were caused by electric appliances and wiring.

    Modern home appliances are safer today than they were a generation ago. Older appliances can pose a fire hazard because they may lack modern safety protections. But new appliances have more electronic bells and whistles than ever before, making it possible that wiring or electric components could go bad. But the fact is, most appliance fires are caused by human error. The following are appliances with a history of fires and the actions you can take to have fewer issues.

    Threats from Common Appliances

    Ovens. This appliance is the number one culprit. While grease fires on the stovetop are common, many issues can also cause an oven fire. While the oven helps contain flames if a fire starts, it can still spread to other parts of the home. Being aware of the common causes of oven fires can help you avoid this situation.

    Sometimes it’s the appliance itself that’s to blame for a fire. Electric ovens have heating elements that can malfunction and cause sparks, which can lead to a fire. So, keeping your oven in good repair is a must. But typically, it’s a user error, like when an overfilled pan bubbles over and lands on the heating element. Baking greasy foods can cause the fat and grease to splatter on the heating elements, igniting a fire. It’s always best to cover food and use a baking sheet when possible.

    And never leave food unattended. Always set a timer to remind yourself of the food you have cooking in the oven. And lastly, clean your over regularly! When food debris builds up enough, it can catch on fire.

    Dishwashers. Have you ever opened your dishwasher immediately after it finished cleaning and gotten a face full of steam? That’s because a dishwasher contains heating elements that dry your dishes. These heating elements get wet, heat up, and cool down each time the dishwasher is run. Old or faulty elements can start a fire. So, never start a dishwasher before leaving your house. While it’s nice to return home to clean dishes, it’s not worth the risk.

    Dryers. The most common cause of dryer fires is failure to do a thorough cleaning. Because a lint trap won’t catch every bit of fuzz from clothes, lint can gradually build up and catch fire in the heating element or exhaust duct. Although it looks harmless, lint is made of flammable material. Because the fibers are so fine and short, they are like kindling—lots of dry, easily ignited bits collected into one big clump. To see how fast a lint fire can start; watch this video: Preventing dryer fires: Experts say keeping your lint trap clean is just part of the safety cycle.

    Microwaves. According to Bob Schiffmann, a 50-year veteran of the microwave industry and president of the International Microwave Power Institute, microwave fires usually start for the same reason that oven, stovetop, or grill fires do: “It’s simply due to [the food] overheating.” Food-based fires in a microwave almost always happen because someone overestimated or misentered the cooking time.

    There are three other ways that dangerous microwave fires can begin: 1) The power supply can short out and burn the components inside the housing; 2) A power surge can trick the microwave into turning on, and it may run continuously until somebody notices and turns it off (there are reports of this happening with several brands – if this happens to you, unplug it immediately); 3) Some parts could be prone to catching fire when overheated.

    Pay Attention to Guidelines

    Many user-related causes of appliance fires are caused by carelessness, distraction, or haste. And sometimes it’s just ignorance. With appliances, we too often take the “set it and forget it” attitude. And that’s a mistake. “Most people do not follow the recommended installation, use, and care of their appliances,” says Ken Canziani, IAAI-CFI, senior fire investigator at Unified Investigations & Sciences, Inc. in Sacramento, CA. “Many issues or fires can be prevented if people are aware of and follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.”

    But unforeseen occurrences befall us all. In other words, stuff happens. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience a fire of any kind, give the professionals at ServiceMaster By Simons a call. We’ll clean and restore your Chicagoland home and its contents and help return your life to normal.


    Choose a Trustworthy Company

    ServiceMaster By Simons is a reputable disaster restoration company you can rely on. We’ve been in business for many years and take great pride in serving the expansive Chicago metropolitan area and its surrounding suburbs. Our company stands as the preferred choice in Chicagoland for both commercial and residential disaster restoration services. Our expertise includes Fire Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation, and Smoke Odor Removal. With a team of highly skilled professionals who are certified by the IICRC, we’re equipped to handle insurance claims of any size. Call 773-376-1110 or contact us online.


    • Nasutsa Mabwa

      Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.

      About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons
      Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving both Cook and Lake County, Illinois. Recently, the company was awarded a variety of honors, including the SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including water and flood damage restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, mold remediation, to residential and commercial customers in both Cook and Lake County IL.

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