Expert Electrical

Extension Cord Hazards & Proper Use

Feb 24, 2016 | Electrical Safety

Extension cords a quick tool that solves a lot of problems. Whenever we are at a lack of outlets, or need to use a device just a bit farther than the normal outlet can reach – extension cords are our best friends. But it is important to remember that extension cords were made for a specific reason, and using them incorrectly can lead to serious electrical hazards. Know the hazards and how to avoid them.

Extension Cord Hazards

  • Avoid running extension cords across high traffic areas. Extension cords that are loose or hanging are prone to being tripped over, hooked on and ultimately disconnected. This causes not only a tripping hazard, but the pull can bring down the devices that are connected to the extension cord. This will leave you with not only a health injury, but also a damaged extension cord and a few damage electrical devices.
  • Don’t run an extension cord under furniture or rugs. To solve the first problem you may attempt to hide your extension cords below rugs and under furniture. Over time though, extension cords can heat up and cause a fire. If you need to run an extension cord around your home, consider having an additional outlet installed instead.
  • Don’t use nails or staples to mount extension cords. By attempting to secure an extension cord from being loose and becoming unplugged, nails and staples are not the right way to go. These can puncture the rubber protective layer and electricity can travel outside of the wire causing electrocution.
  • Don’t plug in extension cords into other extension cords. Extension cords were only made to go their own distance. By chaining them together you reduce the gauge and electrical current. You will often be left with devices not receiving enough power. Instead use a longer extension cable or install a new outlet.
  • Purchase an outdoor extension cord for outdoor use. There is a difference between indoor and outdoor extension cords. If an extension cord is not rated for outdoor use it can become damaged easier and be susceptible to the elements.
  • Ensure that the extension cord supports your electrical devices. Don’t overload our extension cord. Extension cords will have a specified electrical load they can handle. By pushing them past this limit you risk damaging the devices and also power surges.
  • Store electrical cords safely. When you are not using your extension cords, unplug them (by the wire) and store them inside. If they are left outdoors they will become cracked and damaged.
  • If it has three prongs, use all three. When an extension cable has three prongs, one of them is the grounder. If you force an extension cable to plug into an only two-prong outlet you are risking serious electrocution. The devices on the other end require a grounder. Electricity will jump to the nearest source (you) rather than travel down the wire, causing serious health injury.

Using Extension Cords Correctly

If you can identify with any of these hazards in your home it may be time to install additional electrical outlets to reduce dependence on extension cords. For assistance from a licenced electrician, contact Expert Electric at 604-681-8338.