When a severe storm is forecasted, we prepare ourselves by minimizing home water usage and securing all external fixtures and furniture. When hail is forecasted, we store our vehicles in the garage. But what about the damage that occurs from within the home? It may not be the top of your mind for “most dangerous perils,” but our household appliances have the very real potential to cause severe damage to our home. The most common culprit of home fires in Canada is due to internal origins, sometimes from an item that we use every day. Your toaster? Fire hazard. A dishwasher that short-circuits? Also a fire hazard.
Does that mean we need to chuck out these appliances? Definitely not. However, it helps to know which appliances in your home pose the most risk and how we can maintain them regularly to minimize the risk of damage. Here is a list of 7 of the most hazardous household appliances.
#1: The toaster (and the toaster oven.)
The toaster/toaster oven is responsible for around 1,300 home fires in Canada alone. Some toasters have been known to turn on by themselves and jam, causing a mechanical breakdown. If you leave food cooking for too long, it can catch fire as well if it overheats too much. Any metal in your toaster or toaster oven can heat up rapidly if unchecked and even explode, instigating a fire – so refrain from placing any metal material in these appliances.
#2: The dishwasher.
The dishwasher is not only a major cause of water damage if it leaks unexpectedly, malfunctions, or overflows, but it’s also a fire hazard. If unchecked for too long, the control panel could malfunction and cause rinse aid to leak into its circuits. Water and electricity are never a good mix. Always ensure that your dishwasher is regularly maintained, cleaned, and inspected.
#3: The oven.
Food left inside an oven for too long can overheat and burst into flames. Some food, if not prepared properly, can expand and burst unexpectedly and the leftover scraps can catch fire. Always check on anything in the oven regularly. Unattended cooking is a common cause of fire in the home. If you can, avoid overusing the oven self-cleaning feature (which basically utilizes extreme temperatures to burn away any excess food) and clean it manually whenever necessary.
#4: The stovetop.
Stovetops are a common source of home fires, especially when left unattended. Very few homeowners know how to handle a grease fire when they arise, especially because many people assume that it can be put out with water. Unfortunately, water will only worsen the fire. Instead, a grease fire should be smothered, and the burner should be turned off. Stovetop fires can easily catch on cupboards, countertops, clothing, and other flammable materials.
#5: The drying machine.
There are a few ways that a fire can start in the dryer. A thermostat could break and result in a dryer heating up without any limit, causing the clothing inside to catch on fire. Excess lint could block a dryer vent, or gas could leak. It’s vital that you frequently assess the state of your drying machine, clear out the excess lint, and ensure that the thermometer is in good working order.
#6: The refrigerator.
While the refrigerator may seem like a strange place for a fire to start, this kitchen appliance is responsible for over 1,500 fires in Canada. A switch could short-circuit, or a light-bulb could remain on and overheat when the door is shut. Faulty wiring and broken compressors are also instigators of fires, and these disasters could ruin all your food inside – as well as cause damage to other aspects of your home if the fire gets out of control.
#7: Your power bars.
Power bars allow you to charge or plug-in multiple devices at once, but they can be a major fire hazard. It’s too easy to place a power bar near a wet environment, under a carpet, or close to an adjacent piece of furniture. Wires that are frayed can start a fire without too much effort. Inspect your wires frequently to ensure they aren’t damaged and keep your power bars away from other materials.
Does home insurance cover damage triggered by household appliances?
It depends. If the damage was accidental, such as if your clothing in your dryer caught fire and a number of your belongings were damaged or lost entirely, you will likely be covered for repairs, replacements, and cleaning – minus your deductible. If the damage was due to an appliance breaking down as a result of general wear-and-tear, you likely wouldn’t be covered.
This is why it’s vital to ensure you are regularly maintaining your appliances, manually cleaning, and doing small repairs where necessary. You will be covered for mishaps you could not have predicted, but any lack of maintenance damages or slow decline will not be covered as it is your responsibility to ensure your appliances are in good working order.
Preventing disaster in the home:
Damages to your home from internal sources are 100% preventable. To protect your home and household appliances, consider the following tips:
- Always have an emergency preparedness plan on hand for you and your family in the event something disastrous occurs.
- Keep fire extinguishers in easy-to-access locations and inform your family of their whereabouts should a fire ever occur.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Purchase and install smoke alarms. Regularly replace the batteries.
- Unplug any and all appliances when not in use.
- Inspect your appliances regularly to ensure they are in good working order.
- If you suspect there may be something wrong with any of your household appliances, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for an inspection and repairs.
Sometimes, the unexpected does occur. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a solid home insurance policy to help you get back on your feet following a disaster. Excalibur Insurance can help you get started on comprehensive home insurance today.