The average homeowner probably doesn’t think of plumbing issues as creating fire hazards. After all, aren’t these two completely different systems in the home? Technically, yes they are—but that doesn’t mean one can’t affect the other. Certain plumbing problems can, in fact, cause electrical fires. Sometimes the plumbing itself creates a fire hazard; at other times the hazard happens while trying to repair the problem. Let’s look at a few common examples.
Hidden Pipe Leaks
As part of your home’s infrastructure, quite often pipes and electrical wiring run close together behind the walls and/or under the floors. If either/both are aging or have vulnerabilities, it could be a recipe for disaster. Hidden leaks in the pipes can cause water to drip onto the wires. If the water touches an exposed part of the wire, or if the wire insulation is faulty, it can cause a short-circuit or sparks that can ignite a fire.
Frozen Pipes/Heat Tape
Many homeowners apply heat tape to their exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing in winter. However, if the heat tape isn’t applied correctly or is otherwise faulty, the electrical element inside it can overheat and ignite a fire. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that heat tape causes 2000 fires per year, causing 100 injuries and 10 deaths.
While not a direct cause of electrical fire, the flame from a blow torch used for soldering metal pipes can easily start a fire unless you take appropriate safety precautions. Home improvement “DIY-ers” make up a large percentage of these incidents because they were unaware of proper safety protocols or the risks involved.
The good news is that most plumbing-related electrical fires are highly preventable. If you notice higher-than-normal water bills, have a plumber check your home for hidden pipe leaks—and if you have safety concerns about the proper use of heat tape or a blow torch, contact a plumbing professional to help you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Palady, RMP is the President and co-owner of Budget Rooter Plumbing & Drain Cleaning. This family owned plumbing company has been serving their customers for more than 25 years, and makes customer service and quality of work their priority.
Jeff started working in the field at the age of fifteen under the tutelage of his father, who owned a Philadelphia-based plumbing and drain cleaning company. At the age of eighteen, Jeff and his mother decided to open their own shop in their home state of Delaware. For the first few years, Jeff was Budget Rooter’s only field technician, and was often out on calls until late at night while going to school to earn his Master’s License. As Budget Rooter grew, Jeff trained new technicians, researched and purchased the best equipment, and today he manages the operations of the company.
Known for being dedicated to Budget Rooter, Jeff is one of the first to arrive in the morning and is usually the last to leave. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys fishing, modifying his truck, and spending time with his wife and two sons.