(1) Electrical systems age and can become overloaded, particularly in older homes. Over the years as more lighting, appliances and equipment are added, the electrical system becomes overburdened and problems can develop. If fuses blow or circuit breakers protecting branch circuits trip frequently, new branch circuits or other repairs may be necessary. Depending on the condition of the equipment and the extent of the repairs, the cost may be nominal or could run into several thousand dollars. A qualified licensed electrician can determine if repairs are necessary and can estimate the cost. (2) Consider installation of arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), which detect arcs in electrical systems, a leading cause of electrical fires. (3)Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which can protect from lethal electrical currents. (4) Always follow appropriate safety precautions and manufacturer's instructions. If you have a question about a specific electrical product, contact the manufacturer. Many electrical manufacturers have web sites, including contact information. (5) Check outlets and extension cords to make sure they aren't overloaded. (6) Examine electrical cords to make sure they aren't frayed, damaged or placed under rugs or carpets. (7) Make sure that the proper wattage light bulbs are being used in light fixtures and lamps. (8) One of the most important precautions consumers can take is to test GFCIs and smoke detectors monthly. Replace smoke detector batteries annually.


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