Electrical fires leave a trail of evidence as they spread, and forensic fire experts read that trail as objectively as possible to determine the nature and origin of the blaze. The type of damage the fire caused to the electrical system can point to how it started. Arcing and melting damage are common in systems devastated by fire, but what are some differences between the two types of damage?
Arc damage occurs in an electrical system when electricity flows in an air gap between two ungrounded conductors of widely varying voltage. The short circuit that occurs can lead to an arc flash, or even an arc blast.
Meanwhile, melting damage usually occurs in systems with a high electrical current flow. Components and conductors can overheat from the electrical load and eventually begin to melt.
An arc flash is usually accompanied by a bright flash of light and a loud noise. It leaves a pattern of bead-like bits of scorched or melted metal in its wake, which forensic engineering services can analyze to trace the cause of the fire.
Melting damage is not as dramatic or immediately obvious. However, components that are encased in plastic or insulation are common targets for melting, and they may leave behind a sticky residue of melted plastic.
Arc damage can be devastating to an electrical system if left unchecked. Those arc flashes and blasts can cause explosions and far-reaching fires in your facility.
Melting damage may be less dangerous to the entire system, but that doesn’t mean it carries no hazards at all. Melted wires and components can cause a failure in one or more parts of your electrical system. Once those components melt, there’s no way to fix them; you’ll have to replace them in full to boost your system’s overall safety.
If you notice arcing or melting damage around your electrical system, consider enlisting a forensic engineering expert to inspect the site. There are a few key differences between these types of electrical damage, but you should still mitigate both dangers to the best of your ability to maintain safety. Contact Dreiym Engineering to learn more about our forensic engineering consulting services.