2 Wants To Know Investigates: Electric Danger

12:09 AM, Feb 7, 2012   |    comments
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Eden, N.C. - It's invisible. It's in every home. You use it every day. You're using it right now. However, one little mistake and your home could go up in flames. We're talking about electrical problems.

According to FEMA, in a typical year, electrical problems cause 28,000 fires. Those problems cause up to one billion dollars worth of damage.

Electrician Todd Nance works with electricity every day. "You can't see it. You can't smell it. You know it's there. But, the only time you feel it is when it's too late," he said. He runs a business called Infrared Testing and Electrical Repair in Eden, NC.

Behind your walls, a web of electrical wires could put your belongings, and your life, at risk.

Elretha Perkins tells everyone to watch the wires woven through their home and business. Last year, much of her daycare business burned to the ground. Inspectors told her a bad outlet caused the fire.

"The kids could have been here. Not only that, everything i had worked for all these years had gone up in smoke," Perkins said. "You can't replace the memories."

Perkins hired Nance to inspect outlets at her business and home.

Nance knows electrical fires kill more than three hundred people every year. He uses an infrared camera to find hot spots and other problems that could spark a fire.

Businesses have used similar technology for decades. Until recently, the cameras were too expensive to use in homes. Plus, most homeowners never consider getting outlets or wiring inspected.

"It's a lot of lack of education," Nance said.

In 2010, State Fire Marshal data shows inspectors did not list a cause for more than 80 percent of fires in North Carolina.

Nance wonders if wiring problems could be to blame for some of those fires.

"When the fire department comes in, you've burned up all your evidence. So, it's a lot of guessing as to what caused the fire," Nance said.

An inspection can short circuit a problem, before it becomes a catastrophe. 

Getting your home inspected and wiring replaced or repaired is not cheap. Expect to pay hundreds of dollars or more.

However, that money will buy you both safety and peace of mind. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends getting some kind of an electrical inspection every ten years.

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