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Can Your Computer Catch on Fire?


Most people living in urban settings or working from home have computers. Desktop computers are very beneficial, as you can achieve a lot online and make it easy to explain complicated concepts to your kids through audio-visual methods. You may also bring home your laptops or laptops issued by your employer if you need to complete urgent tasks after work hours.

However, like other electrical appliances, computers are a fire threat to your home. Between 2007 and 2011, fires affecting more than 730 homes in the U.S involved office equipment. This resulted in 11 civilian deaths, 51 injuries, and a $28 million estimated cost of property damage. Computers caused 48% of these incidents. That said, how can computers cause a fire?

  1. Electrical Shortages

A faulty electrical power supply can short circuit, causing fires. Even though most power supplies used by desktop PCs have a metal casing, they still present a risk of flames and sparks. The best way to manage risks caused by electrical shortages is to turn off your desktop when not being used. Turning off when not in use is also beneficial as it reduces the wear and tear of computer components, saves electricity bills, and increases the system’s longevity.

However, turning off computers when not used doesn’t eliminate this risk. This is because other electronic peripherals, such as printers and monitors, remain powered. You should use slave/master power supply surge protectors for these devices. These plugs supply power to peripheral devices only when the computer is turned on. It cuts the power supply immediately after the PC goes off.

  1. Malfunctioning Laptop Batteries

While the exploding Samsung batteries became a trend some years back, there have been several computer recalls due to faulty batteries that were fire hazards. For instance, in 2019, a specific Apple MacBooks model was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to overheating batteries and the risk of causing a fire.

There are many other similar stories relating to malfunctioning computer batteries. With tech increasingly being adopted in all sectors, the demand for longer-working batteries is on the rise. However, laptop batteries with more power come with their fair share of risks. While battery manufacturers, such as Apple, maintain that their products meet the industry standards, these risks remain imminent.

As manufacturers work on improving the safety of laptop batteries, users should also be educated on using these devices properly to reduce overheating and fire risks. For instance, placing your laptop on soft surfaces, such as on a pillow or bed, while using increases the chances of overheating. Laptops have powerful lithium-ion batteries that become very unstable when exposed to high temperatures.

  1. Excessive Dust in the Computer

Most people forget how computers and laptops work as they learn or teach kids about computers. PCs technically suck air into cool various systems and exhaust warm air to keep the components cool. However, dust gradually builds up as air particles settle on system components. Unfortunately, dust and other flammable particles accumulating on electronic components are disastrous.

That aside, dust can accumulate on computer system fans over time, hindering their ability to cool computer systems effectively. This can easily cause overheating and a resultant fire. Proactive prevention by cleaning computer fans and other electronic components is the best way to avoid fire risks.


Computers are an integral part of most peoples’ everyday life. If you are among this population, ensure that you adhere to various safety measures to reduce fire risks. A few safety measures to consider are installing an air conditioner, cleaning your computer periodically, using your laptop on hard surfaces, and using insulated power or extension cords.