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The role of breakers in preventing house fires

A lot of homeowners think that breakers and fuse boxes are a constant annoyance. Whenever a circuit gets overloaded, it trips the breaker or blows a fuse. This cuts off power to the circuit, and everything shuts down.

This can be frustrating. For example, newer kitchens often have multiple circuits because of the amount of appliances that are used these days. Older homes, though, may just have a single circuit. A home built in 1926 wasn't designed for a fridge, a microwave, a toaster, a hot plate, a coffee maker and more. This means the circuit can trip when you use everything at once.

However, homeowners are cautioned to realize why this happens and why it's important. The circuit blows because there is too much power being drawn through the wire, and there's a risk that it could overheat. If this happens and the heating process isn't checked in some way, it can start a fire in the walls of the home. The circuit breaker is there to keep you safe from this danger that would otherwise go unseen.

That's why it's so important to have breakers that work properly and that have been designed safely. You may never think about these until they trip, but having a faulty one that never trips could allow a dangerous amount of heat and electricity to build up in the line. Your next warning could be the fire alarm going off.

If you've been injured in a fire caused by a faulty breaker, you may be able to seek compensation if it turns out that the breaker was defective or poorly designed all along. Be sure you know your rights in Illinois.

Source: Den Garden, "What Causes Electrical Fires in the Home," Dan Harmon, accessed June 28, 2016

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