|Risk Management Issues - Agent Disclosures - Litigation Avoidance & Risk
|By Apple Home Inspections (949) 837-7755 David Jones
Dimmer Switch Feels Warm to the Touch
Home electrical fires happen about 70,000 times a year. A major part of these fires
can be blamed to arc faults. An arc fault is the flow of electrical curent over an
unintended path. These arcs can go well over temperatures of 10,000° F and easily
ignite combustible materials in the residence.
The information on this website is believed to be accurate, is for informational
purposes only, and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. All
information, ideas and suggestions should be verified to be correct and reviewed
with an attorney and an appropriately qualified broker, as well as an appropriately
qualified professional, who has knowledge of the subject matter.
Blaze underscores need for CFL bulb education
by Kevin Spradlin
CUMBERLAND - When Rick Jenkins began replacing the common, incandescent bulbs around his house with compact
fluorescent lamps, he didn't give much thought about saving the environment.
Instead, the Bel Air resident and Pitt-Ohio Express truck driver just wanted to stop buying light bulbs so often. Any
environmental benefit, he figured, was a side effect.
That was then. Now a fire has destroyed his split-level home on View Crest Drive. Rick Jenkins, wife Angie and
6-year-old daughter, Haley, lost everything but their family pooch, a 2-year-old goldendoodle. Fire investigators
determined the fire was caused by a CFL connected to a dimmer switch. Packaging on many types of CFLs includes a
warning not to connect them to dimmer switches.
Remember - heat becomes a safety issue in residential electrical systems. A
relatively low level of heat over a period of time can gradually break down the wire
insulation, the thermoplastic coating covering the bare wire. Eventually the insulation
cracks and loses its insulating ability; and may cause dangerous short circuits and
arc faults. This is when a little bit of heat over a long period suddenly becomes a lot
of heat all at once, a fire.
A buyer notices that a dimmer switch
may feel warm or hot to the touch of a
hand. He ask you is this normal?
The answer. It is not unusal for a dimmer switch to feel warm at
times, however, at times it can be a yellow flag of a problem.
Electricians will tell you that this may be caused by a number of
things. Some are easy to fix.
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Bulbs are 100 watt not 60 watt bulbs.
Dimmer switches are desingned to carry a certian load; i.e.
a maximum of 600 watt load. If there are 8 or 10 canned
ceiling lights in the kitchen and they have 100 watt bulbs,
then the load on the dimmer is 800 to 1,000 watts. More
than what it is designed to carry. The oversized load
causes the switch to warm up, which may be a safety
concrn if it becomes too hot or the wiring gets overloaded.
Swapping out the 100 watt bulbs to 60 watt bulbs may help.
If you have eight 60 watt bulbs, then the switch is carrying 480 watts instead of 800 or
a 1,000 watts; thus within the range of the switch. Naturally, it is wisest to have a
electrician review the issue.
|Which is best?
Slab or Raised Foundation
|Some dimmer switches for CFL or fluorescent bulbs may cause fires.