According to fire cause statistics from the Institute for Loss Prevention and Damage Research (IFS), 31 percent of fires in Germany had electricity causes, followed directly by fire through human error. As a rule, it is a cable fire that starts the fire. The consequences of this have already been experienced by the German parliament, whose entire computer center was crippled for this reason. The city's public transportation system has also come to a standstill on one or two occasions because a cable fire knocked out a control center.
The causes of cable fire vary in nature. First and foremost, it is overloaded cables and defective electrical installations, when too much current is passed through a cable that is too weak. There are wires in the cable, which heat up when the voltage is too strong, start to glow and then catch fire. The culprit can be cables that are too thin and junction boxes to which too many devices are then connected. Old or loose clamp connections, for example, the fuse box, circuit distributors, as well as each individual socket in the household can also cause a cable fire. Over time, oxidation and corrosion wear out the wires, causing cable connections to become loose. In the worst case, this changes the contact resistance, which can also lead to overheating, sparks and ultimately a fire. Cable drums made of metal are also a risk: When not unrolled, the core acts like an induction furnace. If the drum is now energized, it will generate intense heat. Another scenario is a cable break, which occurs due to mechanical stress or wear of the cable. Improper bending reduces the cable diameter, which increases the current density. The result: arcing faults and a strong heat load. In addition, with cheap cables, poor materials and defective equipment, the insulation and surrounding material can ignite.
Laundry dryers are at the top of the list when it comes to cable fires, as the insulating materials inside can ignite relatively quickly due to intense heat buildup. But electric blankets, kettles, hair dryers and the already mentioned overloaded multiple sockets are also at the top of the list. Here, above all, care should be taken to ensure that the temperature is adjustable.
Detecting a cable fire or smoldering fire is not always easy. The latter is usually hidden under the plaster. As soon as it becomes visible and comes into contact with oxygen, it can quickly turn into open fire. Nevertheless, there are a few signs, which should be urgently examined by a specialist when they occur.
Picture disturbances with the television
Crackling noises and sparking when switching appliances and light switches on and off
Repeated blowing of the fuse
Unexplained loose contacts and flickering lamps
Damaged connections and wires, (terminal) connections as well as cables
Now it is necessary to act quickly, especially if there is already a smell of burning. If a smoldering fire is detected and eliminated in time, the consequences are usually not so serious. If a device is defective or simply no longer runs smoothly, it should be checked by a specialist. The Mila platform quickly and easily finds a suitable friend or professional from the neighborhood for repair and advice, so that inflexible working hours and long waits by in-house technicians are a thing of the past and the technology is quickly ready for use again.
If a fire does occur, the question naturally arises as to who will pay for the damage to be repaired. Cable fires are usually insured, provided the defect was not visible beforehand. Household insurance covers all movable goods - the amount and extent is specified individually in the policy. This includes appliances, furniture, clothing, cash, jewelry and the like. Windows, pipes, wiring and so on are covered by homeowner's insurance through the landlord. Only very expensive valuables should be insured additionally.
First, it is cheap devices and sockets that break down due to the excessive voltage load. They are poorly made, which causes the wires to break or simply burn away. It is best to buy devices from a reputable specialist dealer. The VDE mark stands for tested and high quality; all tested electrical appliances are listed on the association's website. So if you are unsure about the seriousness of the dealer or the authenticity of the seal, it is worth taking a quick look at the VDE catalog. In addition, it is of course necessary to take various measures to prevent a cable fire:
Never leave running electrical appliances unattended. Many people turn on the washing machine or dishwasher while they are out and about. It is obvious that something can happen here quickly without anyone noticing it in time.
If an appliance is not being used, then the plug should be pulled out, or it should be switched off completely. Stand-by mode is sufficient here. Multi-sockets for switching devices off are recommended.
Always pay attention to the maximum permissible power for lamps.
If an electrical appliance does not function properly, it is better to have it checked directly by a seller before more serious damage can occur.
Do not place electrical appliances near easily combustible materials.
In addition, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors provide safety. The latter is now mandatory in almost all German states. This is not checked, but you risk the loss of insurance coverage if you disregard it.