14 Extension Cord Safety Tips
A power extension cord is vital in any household since it helps deliver power to inaccessible spaces. Extension cords also allow for multiple gadget use simultaneously. However, when improperly used, an extension can overheat and cause a fire. Here are some helpful extension cord safety tips.
1. Do Not Use Electrical Cords as Permanent Wiring
Never use power extension cords as a permanent substitute for your electrical wiring. This should be a temporary power supply solution. Heavy reliance on electrical cords is an indication that you have fewer electrical outlets. Have a professional install more outlets to meet your house needs.
2. Avoid Overloading the Extension Cord
If you overload the extension cords, they will quickly wear off and cause electric shock and fire. Check the wattage, which is the maximum amount of electricity the cord can transmit safely. Don’t plug in appliances with a higher wattage rating than indicated. When plugging multiple appliances into the extension, add up the wattage to determine the total electrical load.
3. Buy the Right Extension Cords
Choose an appropriate extension cord for the intended use. Check the product before purchase to see if it suits indoor or outdoor use. Outdoor extensions have insulation cover that protects them from moisture, sunlight, and abrasion. An indoor extension may not withstand such harsh elements and can create a fire or result in electric shock when used outside. Also, only buy approved extension cords that meet government safety requirements. Use the flat cords to power smaller appliances and thick low-gauge round extensions for large gadgets.
4. Check the Cord Size Before Purchase
Buy extensions that are long enough to avoid chaining multiple cords. Plugging two cords together reduces their currency capacity by half, increasing the chances of overheating. Check the amperage and length before purchase. The extension’s gauge indicates the size. The smaller the number, the longer the cord, and the higher the electric current the extension can safely handle.
5. Read Through and Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions
Before you start using the extension cord, read the safety instructions that come with the package. One guideline you need to pay attention to is using childproof covers for the unused receptacles. Never attempt to remove the extension cord’s ground pin to make it fit into a two-prong outlet. Also, keep the cord straight when in use. Unplug the extension once it begins to feel hot, and never tape the cord to the floor or other surfaces.
6. Don’t Use a Damaged Extension Cord
If the extension cord is damaged in any way, it can cause a fire or even damage your appliances. So always check the extension for some fraying insulation, exposed wiring, or damaged prongs. Replace such a cord or have it repaired. Adding duct tape on a damaged extension cord is against OSHA guidelines. Do not patch the cord. The right way to repair the extension is by cutting the damaged end and replacing it with a new one. If the damage is on the cord’s outer protective jacket, consider a replacement.
7. Don’t Run Electrical Cords Under Rugs or Through the Doorway
Avoid running the extension cord through the ceiling, walls, doorways, or under carpets. Excessive heat in such surfaces may cause the cord to overheat. When covered under your rugs, heat cannot escape, which can result in a fire. Plug the extension in the same room where you power the gadgets. Crossing the cord from one space to another increases the risks of trips and falls, especially in high-traffic areas. This can also damage the cord. Install a temporary power distribution box if you need to supply power at a distance of more than 100 feet.
8. Don’t Attach Extension Cords on Surfaces Using Metal Staples
Never use nails or staples to attach the extension cord onto the wall, ceiling, or other surfaces. You may end up puncturing the cord insulation. Any impact like pinching will damage the extension, increasing safety hazards.
9. Only Use Extension Cords With GFCI Protection
Ensure that you buy an extension cord with GFCI protection to protect your house and loved ones in case of a power surge. The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter disconnects power to your appliances if it detects unusual electric flow to prevent shock or fire.
10. Avoid Connecting Larger Appliances to the Extension Cord
An extension cord can’t power all gadgets. Don’t use it on major appliances like washers, dryers, microwaves, space heaters, refrigerators, air conditioning units, toasters, and coffee makers. These are high-power capacity appliances, and you should always plug them directly into a wall outlet.
11. Don’t Place the Extension Near Water
Although the outdoor extension cord can withstand rainfall, if water gets into the plugs, it can cause a short circuit. This results in melted wires and electrical fire. Touching an electrical cord when wet can also cause electrocution. If you must use the cord in a wet area, ensure that you choose the right material and plug it into a GFCI outlet.
12. Opt for Three-Pronged Extensions
Go for extension cords with polarized or three-prong plugs. They help ground all the electrical appliances powered by the cord. This gives power surges a safe place to dissipate, preventing electric shock or fires.
13. Plug the Extension All in and Don’t Pull it Out from the Outlet
Inspect the extension first before plugging in your gadgets. Push in the plug prongs into an outlet all the way in. When disconnecting, do not pull out the cord forcefully. This can damage the extension, cause an electric shock or a fire. The right way to unplug an extension cord is by pulling it gently by the plug.
14. Maintain the Cords Appropriately
You need to take care of your extension cord for it to serve you longer. When not in use, unplug the cords and store them appropriately. Avoid cramming the cords together to prevent damaging the insulation. If the plug or the extension wires feels hot, discontinue use. Keep the extension in a space free from obstructions to enable proper heat release. Do not run the extension cord over a snow surface, and never force it into an outlet.
Get Professional Assistance for All Your Electric Needs
An extension cord helps you power devices that are away from an outlet. Although this is a helpful gadget, it quickly deteriorates and results in a fire or electric shock. It’s therefore important that you learn how to use an extension cord rightly. Scheduling for professional electric system inspections each year is also a good idea. The electrician will inspect the nature of the cords, fix damages and recommend replacements for the severely damaged extensions. A professional will also assess the position of the extension cord and adjust it if need be to minimize the risks of fire or other accidents. If you often have to use extensions in the house, you need additional outlets. Have an electrician assess your house needs and install enough outlets to minimize overdependence on cords.
If you have any questions about extension cords or any electrical issues, contact Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning. We offer electrical, indoor air quality, water heaters, duct cleaning, heating, and cooling system services in Kirkland, WA, and the nearby areas. Call us now to book an appointment.