It’s that time of year again. All over the country, people are dragging out their extension cords. From holiday lighting to home use to outdoor equipment, extension cords are extremely handy. However, these cords can also be big hazards and even loss of power when not used properly. Nipper Electric wants to be sure your home or business stays safe long after the lights and seasonal decorations are put away. Here are some of the dangers of extension cord use and tips for how to avoid them.
Dangers of Extension Cords
There’s no doubt that using an expanded cord can be a great tool for all sorts of projects around your home or business. But, like anything else, if not used correctly these cords can cause big trouble.
- Exposed Wiring- During storage, these cords can become torn or damaged. As you unpack your cords, double check each part for the following.
- Worn Edges
- Melted Areas
If you see any of these things, get rid of the old cord and start fresh with a new cord.
- Overheating- A common issue for expanded cords is overheating. In fact, one of the most common fire hazards comes from overheated extension cords. Most often, overheating occurs because the load the cord can hold is exceeded. When the cord becomes overwhelmed, the casing can become warm or hot, causing the plastic to melt or sparks to start.
- Short Circuiting– Another common issue that happens with cords is short circuiting. When the cord becomes overloaded the current can run along pathways that it shouldn’t. This can quickly cause fires or electrical injuries.
- Tripping– A lot of people leave their cords out, lying in walkways or in the middle of the floor. In fact, over 4,000 cord injuries happen from tripping alone. Find a way to put the cord out of the way without covering it.
Tips to Keep Your Extension Cord Safe
Not knowing extension cord safety can lead to the dangers we’ve already discussed. Here are the best tips for extension cord safety.
- Never Use Torn Cords- If your cord has chew marks, melted parts, exposed wires, or torn areas, toss it. The money you think you may be saving can’t make up for the risks you are taking.
- Know the Gauge– The best way to avoid overheating is to know what gauge of wire is in the cord. The wire gauge lets you know how much power the cord can handle. The smaller the number on the cord, the more power it can carry. Once you know the gauge, be sure you know how much electrical power is needed by the appliance or device you are going to plug in. Here’s how you can calculate the right gauge for your needs.
- Never Use Temporary Cords for a Permanent Job!– These cords are meant for use over a short period. They should not be used as a solution to electrical problems. If your outlets aren’t convenient or you find yourself using extension cords longer, look into receptacle installations. They are affordable, easy, and can actually save you money.
- Be Careful Where You Place Cords– Cords can become warm from use. Make sure you NEVER Put Cords Under Rugs! Also, keep cords away from clothing, curtains, and other flammable objects.
- Use the Right Cord– You may not know this, but not all cords are meant to be used outside or have waterproofing. Make sure the cord you use is the right one for the job.
- Don’t Stack Cords- Using one cord on another on another on another is not the right way to extend your electrical power. When you stack cords, the voltage can drop with each additional cord. Simply make sure the cord you are using is long enough for the space you need.
As you get your electrical cords out, take a quick look over them. Note the gauge, the length, and look for damage. You’ll be safer and happier with the results. If you have any questions or concerns about your electrical wiring, please call Nipper Electric right away. We offer dependable, professional electrical services at realistic prices. Call us at 757-842-1710 or make an appointment online. We want to keep your power on and your home running all year.