Ask NCHH About Fires

Below are a few of the common questions NCHH has received regarding fire hazards in the home.

I noticed my clothes dryer gets super hot and gives off a burnt smell. Does that mean it’s time to buy a new one?
Not necessarily—it just may be time to clean your dryer vent. Lint balls are extremely flammable. Have you seen the Farmers Insurance commercial on dryer fires? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that lint-filled dryer vents cause over 15,000 fires per year. Clothes dryer fires also account for approximately 20 fatalities, 400 injuries, and over $100 million in property damage annually. The leading cause of these clothes dryer fires is a “failure to clean” them. If you have an electric clothes dryer, the chance of fire is 250% greater than if you have a gas dryer.

The good news is that these fires are totally preventable. Learn how to prevent clothes dryer fires in your home.

Should I replace my aluminum wiring with copper?

Aluminum wiring is no longer used in housing electrical systems, because it has been linked to fires. According to the CPSC, an estimated two million homes in the United States were built or renovated using electrical circuits with aluminum wiring. In particular, some homes built or renovated between 1965 and 1973 may have had aluminum wiring installed to feed branch circuits that run from the main electrical panel to the outlets and lighting fixtures.

The best way to determine whether a home has aluminum wiring is to hire a professional. A homeowner may be able to identify an aluminum-wired system by looking at the cables that run through the basement or attic to see if the cable is labeled “AL” or Aluminum.

If a home does have aluminum wiring, the CPSC recommends two actions:

  1. Complete replacement of the system. This may be too expensive for many homeowners, as it can cost $8,000 or more.
  2. Replace every connection in every outlet, switch, and junction box with a copper pigtail using a special Copalum connection — a short piece of copper wire is bonded to the aluminum wire using a tool designed specifically for the task. The copper wire makes the connection. It may be difficult to find an electrician to make a Copalum repair. Information about certified contractors is available through Tyco at 800.522.6752.

CPSC Aluminum Wiring Fact Sheet

Additional Fire Prevention Resources

Courtesy of our friends at the Public Health Corps, here are several additional fire prevention resources. While not all of them deal directly with house fires, other non-house fires can ultimately affect living spaces. Therefore, we’ve chosen to include these other resources as well.

Ms. Patricia Sarmiento works for the PublicHealthCorps and kindly contributed a blog recommending some excellent fire prevention tips. Read her blog post here.

Steps to Safety: How to Protect Your Family from a Fire

8 Fire Safety Tips for Alzheimer’s & Aging Family Members

Fire Safety for Elders with Special Health Needs

Fire Safety and Disabilities Guide

Campus and Dorm Fire Safety Tips

What to Do Before, During and After a Fire

The Guide to Cleaning Up After a House Fire

What to Do If Your Car Catches Fire

Fire Safety for Kids, Parents and Teachers

Smokey Bear’s Wildfire Lesson Plans for Educators

The Ultimate Guide to Wildfire Safety

A Kid’s Guide to Forest Fires

Additional Resources

NCHH Blog: Hot Tips to Protect Your Home from Fires
NCHH Blog: How to Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires in Your Home