Is Your Barn’s Electric System A Fire Hazard?

by Matt

How much do you know about the electrical system that’s in your barn right now? Left unchecked or unmaintained, electrical systems can become barn fire hazards. How many of these important tips are you following to keep your electrical system safe and functional?

Make Sure Your Electrical System Is Adequate For Your Needs

When you first build your barn or first move into your barn, you need to give some thought to the ways that you will use electricity. Make a list of the items you use that will draw power, such as lights, a fridge, water bucket heaters, water trough heaters, and a washer and dryer. Then, consider how many of these items you’ll ever run simultaneously.

This list can provide an eye-opening reminder of how much electrical power you need in your barn, and what type of capacity your electrical system will need to support. Simply setting up power strips or running extension cords isn’t a good idea, since you can overload the electrical wires and outlets, causing breakers to trip – or worse. Remember, too, that extension cords aren’t meant for long-term use, and should never be a long-term solution.

Consult an Electrician Regularly

Find an electrician and have them out to your barn, both when you initially move in or design it, or every few years as a check-up on your electrical system. An electrician can provide detailed advice about the capacity, design, and safety features that you should implement in your barn. They can help you to spot dangerous issues in an existing system, and can advise you on any updates or upgrades that you should make.

Develop a Rodent Control Plan

Mice are prevalent in barns, but they can spell danger for your electrical system if they ever get into walls and chew on wires. Ideally, your wiring should be run through metal pipe to keep rodents from being able to access the wires, though this isn’t always the case, especially if you buy an existing barn.

Develop a rodent control plan that works. Part of your plan should be preventative, such as removing food sources to make your barn less appealing to rodents. Steps like keeping grain in rodent-proof containers and sweeping up spilled feed are easy to implement and effective.

The second part of your rodent control plan needs to consist of a way to eliminate or remove the mice that are present. Some barns bring in barn cats to keep the rodents under control. Others use traps to kill off the populations. Keep in mind that if you use poison and another animal – domesticated or wild – eats a poisoned mouse, that animal can incur secondary poisoning, which can be life-threatening.

Check Your Electrical System

Lastly, keep an eye on your electrical system. Inspect your barn regularly and look for worn wires, plugs that fit loosely in outlets, and other dangers, like lights missing their covers or guards. If your fuses start to trip, that can indicate an issue, and may require a call to your electrician.

With proper maintenance and the help of an electrician, you can keep your barn’s electrical system up to date and potentially prevent a barn fire in the process.

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