How Desktop and Laptop Computers Can Spark a Fire Damage Disaster

Restore-it Restoration and Cleaning offers the fire damage clean up and restoration services El Dorado, AR, residents and businesses need when a laptop or desktop computer causes a fire. There are over 130 million households in the United States, and nearly every home has at least one computer. Many households have multiple devices, including a desktop, laptop, and one or more tablets. Since computers are a part of so many lives, it is important to understand how a desktop or laptop computer can spark a fire and what steps can be taken to prevent a fire.


The main causes of computer fires

There are three main causes of computer fires. First, wiring, cable insulation, and the housing in which the device is encased can catch fire. Fire prevention measures for this risk hazard include:

  • Upgrading the electrical wiring in the home or business to accommodate the additional load
  • Using heavy gauge extension cords
  • Avoiding overloading electrical circuits

Second, dust build-up inside a desktop can cause the inside temperature of the machine to become hot enough to catch fire. A remedy for a potential dust fire involves keeping the device clean inside and out. Also, an elevated room temperature compounds the risk of fire. Turn down the thermostat to reduce the risk of fire from dust build-up.

Third, an overheating laptop battery can lead to a fire. These tips will help avoid a fire from an overheated laptop battery:

  • Use and store the computer in a cool room with some ventilation.
  • Avoid stacking anything on top of a laptop computer.
  • When in use, place the device on a hard, flat surface such as a table or the floor.
  • Avoid using a laptop computer on the bed, a pillow, or carpeting.
  • Keep the exterior case vent covers free of dust.
  • Have a computer hardware professional clean and service the device annually.


Fire prevention strategies

The explosion in the remote workforce significantly elevates fire risks in the home. In many instances, what used to be a few hours a week on the laptop or desktop is now forty to fifty or more hours per week. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides fire safety tips for operating a desktop or laptop computer. The goal is to avoid personal injury, loss of life, or property damage at home and work. According to the NIH, “Make sure that a multipurpose fire extinguisher (e.g., one rated for ordinary combustibles and electrical fires) is located within a reasonable distance from your personal computer. When you leave your personal computer on and unattended, turn off the monitor during your absence. Monitors generate high voltage internally with the potential to start an electrical fire or even trigger an explosion if the computer is located in a flammable atmosphere (such as one might encounter a gas leak or flammable vapors resulting from a chemical spill in a laboratory). The switch for the monitor is typically found at the bottom of the screen, on the side of the monitor, or, in some cases, at the rear of the unit.”

The NIH reminds users that switching the monitor off will not affect the performance of the computer and will not result in the loss of data. “Turning off the monitor while leaving the computer on will NOT disrupt the computer’s operation or compromise data integrity. When you return, simply turn the monitor back on and wait a few seconds for it to warm up.”

The NIH adds the following tips: “Never leave on a personal computer, monitor, or printer with protective dust covers in place. Doing so may cause excessive heat build-up, which can cause hardware failure and potentially result in electrical fires. Never place liquids on computer components or other electronic equipment where damage from spills could occur. Make sure that your computer’s electrical outlet is properly grounded and has a sufficient power rating to handle all the components connected to it.”

A home or workplace fire is disruptive. To ensure a swift recovery and return to normal life, the NIH urges computer users to manage their data files with a worst-case scenario — a fire — in mind. “Keep backup copies of important data in a remote location (i.e., in another building or in a safe deposit box). This will allow you to restore your data subsequent to a fire or other catastrophic event, rather than experiencing the expense of recovery, or worse, the irreversible loss of data.”


Navigating the fire damage clean-up process

When a fire damage disaster occurs, reach out to the professionals at Restore-It Restoration and Cleaning. A crew is available around the clock to provide homeowners and businesses with the fire damage cleanup, smoke odor removal, soot removal, and water damage cleanup services needed when disaster strikes.

For more information about fire damage restoration and smoke odor removal services, call Restore-It Restoration and Cleaning at (870) 417-4614.