How Long Can An Electrical Fire Smolder? (Explained)

Electrical fires are dangerous, difficult to contain, and challenging to spot.

Many electrical fires will start inside the walls due to how the wiring is set up. It might not always be out in the open, which makes it doubly important to get on top of things as soon as possible.

This includes knowing how much time you have before an electrical fire spreads.

A question you might have is, how long can an electrical fire smolder?

An electrical fire can smolder for minutes or hours depending on the source of the fire. In most cases, the reaction is instant as a fire breaks out due to short-circuiting or an overloaded electrical fixture.

In general, your immediate assumption should be to nip the problem in the bud immediately. This includes shutting off the power supply to the property and then working on containing the electrical fire.

Don’t assume the electrical fire is going to smolder for more than a few minutes. It will eventually turn into a full-blown fire if left untouched.

This article explains what you should do when an electrical fire is smoldering and how to make sure it doesn’t spiral out of control.

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How To Contain An Electrical Fire That’s Smoldering

1. Find The Source Of The Potential Fire

It’s important to look for signs of an electrical fire in the walls.

This is going to include smoke coming out of the vents and/or damage to the drywall in your home.

You will want to get to the source of the potential fire as soon as you can.

Since wiring can run throughout a property, you will need to find the precise spot where the electrical smoldering is occurring. To do this, you will want to follow the smell along with what is malfunctioning on your property.

This can be a sign of where the smoldering is taking place.

If you are already aware of its location, it’s time to move on to the next step.

how long can an electrical fire smolder

2. Turn Off The Power Supply

You will want to go to the main breaker and turn off the power.

There should be no electrical power coursing through your property when there is an electrical fire about to break out.

If power continues to surge through, you are going to have major issues containing a fire when it does break out. This will be like pouring fuel onto a fire.

You have to be careful and immediately turn off the power supply.

This should also help reduce the smoldering depending on what the root cause is. In a lot of cases, it is the continuous surge of electricity that causes the smoldering in specific components.

3. Disconnect The Wiring

You will now need to find the component and/or wiring that is causing the smoldering to occur.

For the most part, you should be able to spot it right away.

You will want to take off that wire assuming it is safe to do so. If it is already not possible to get to the wiring then it’s best to call the fire department as soon as possible.

Please note that you should be calling the fire department regardless of what occurs. This is to ensure everything is safe.

how long can an electrical fire smolder

4. Don’t Use Water

The last thing you want to do is use water.

This is dangerous as it will cause sparking and/or might damage surrounding components. Of course, in some situations, you are not going to have an option and that is okay.

In that case, you will be using water as a last resort to ensure a proper fire doesn’t break out across the property.

This is when you can use water to contain the electrical fire in your house.

Otherwise, you will want to take a look at other options including removing the wiring or turning off the power supply to that part of the house or the entire property.

Final Thoughts

How long can an electrical fire smolder?

Electrical fires will smolder for no more than a few minutes. In most cases, electrical fires break out instantly and skip this phase. It’s best to act fast by turning off the power supply, disconnecting the problem components, and calling the fire department.

Do not take a risk when it comes to this type of fire as it can spread rapidly.

You will want to be proactive, find the root cause, and make sure everything is disconnected. This will help nip the problem in the bud.

It’s important to think about this when you are trying to do things the right way.

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