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The Key Sources of Basement Fires and How to Prevent Them

Let’s step away from water in your basement for a moment (no pun intended) and talk about a different element – fire. Basement fires are fairly common and quite devastating. Even if a fire is noticed soon enough and firefighters respond quickly, there is typically an extensive smoke damage to the house, especially if a basement doesn’t have windows or a second entrance from the outside.

At Budget Waterproofing, we want your basement (and your home) to be safe not just from mold and moisture. Here are a few causes of basement fires, as well as tips on how to prevent them.

Utility appliance fires

Your basement is typically the backbone of your home – it contains all the equipment that heats and cools the place, has access to the key pipes and wires and is a go-to place when something goes wrong with the utilities. Furnace and water heater are some of those appliances in your basement that tend to cause trouble. A consistent maintenance is necessary to keep them in a good shape and avoid fires.

Most of us use basement for storage, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but remember to be smart about where you are placing things. Never store flammable materials such as paint next to a heat source such as a furnace. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Fuse box fires

If you have an older home, you most likely have a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker panel. A fuse box is definitely a greater fire hazard simply because it wasn’t designed to handle as much electricity as we use these days. Additionally, if you replace burned out fuses with the wrong type (which is easy to do), you are increasing the risk of your fuse box malfunctioning and catching on fire.

If you live in a home or just bought a house built prior to 1970s, have an electrician evaluate the condition of your home’s wiring. Replacing your home’s entire wiring might be expensive, but you should never cut corners when it comes to yours and your family’s safety. And while you are at it, get your local Maryland basement waterproofing company to inspect your basement for mold and water damage.

Dryer fires

Some newer homes have dedicated laundry rooms upstairs, but many of us still have their washer-dryer setup in the basement. And if you only go down there to do laundry, it’s easy to overlook the necessary maintenance. It goes without saying that the dryer’s lint trap has to be emptied after every load. Dryer vents may also require occasional cleaning to remove any clogs.

A dryer with dirty lint traps and obstructed vent can overheat to the point that it causes a fire, considering that lint is easily flammable. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), close to 15,500 fires at some degree caused by clothes dryers happen every year. They lead to several deaths, hundreds of injuries and millions in property damages.

To further improve your basement’s safety, install carbon monoxide, as well as smoke detectors. Try not to pile up things up to the ceiling, so if the fire does occur, it doesn’t spread to upstairs too fast. If someone is living in a finished or unfinished basement, be mindful of the appliances they leave turned on, such as TVs, lamps, heaters or heating blankets. Don’t leave anything plugged in if you have a leaky basement. Call our Maryland basement waterproofing company and we’ll help you make your basement a safer place.

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