Are you using a power extension cord to increase the number of devices you can plug into an outlet? Or even just to reach the outlet? If so, be sure to avoid these common mistakes! A power extension cord can be a great way to add extra length to your cords, but only if it is used correctly. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 mistakes people make with power extension cords and how to avoid them.
Mistake 1#: Not Checking the Cord for Damage
Before using a power extension cord, it is important to inspect the cord for any damage. Do not use the cord if you see any frayed wires or damaged insulation! Using a damaged cord makes your home vulnerable by posing a serious fire hazard.
Look out for any signs of damage:
- Cracks or cuts in the cord
- Frayed or exposed wires
- Loose connections to outlet
- Damaged insulation
- Cord ends are loose
Store extension cords properly. Keep them off the floor where they can become tangled, and out of reach of children and pets. They are kept safely in a box or on a high shelf at room temperature.
Damaged cords should be repaired or replaced by a professional.
Mistake 2#: Overloading the Cord
Another common mistake is overloading the cord by plugging in too many devices. This can cause the cord to overheat and potentially start a fire. Be sure to check the maximum current rating of your power extension cord before plugging in multiple devices. The rule of thumb is to never exceed 80% of the cord’s maximum current rating.
Mistake 3#: Running the Cord Under Carpets or Rugs
Running a power extension under carpets or rugs is another mistake that can lead to a fire. The heat from the cord can cause the carpet or rug to catch on fire. If you must run the cord under a carpet or rug, be sure to tape it down so it cannot move and rub against the floor.
Not only do you trip and fall over extension cord wires, but damage to the cord is also common. The wire could get nicked which can create sparks that cause a fire. Especially if the cord is in use. Having the wires under a rug is the same as putting a blanket over it; the heat generated by the cord won't have anywhere to escape. This greatly increases the risk of fire.
Even if an extension cord is resistant to abrasion, if it is consistently moved back and forth, the cord will become damaged over time.
Tuck away cords, so they are not a trip hazard by:
- placing them along walls
- running them under furniture
- using cord covers or concealers
- zip ties to keep cords together and tidy looking
Mistake #4: Using an Outlet That Is Not Grounded
If you are using a power extension cord in an area that does not have a grounded outlet, you could be putting yourself at risk of electrical shock. Always double-check that the outlet you are using is properly grounded before plugging in your devices.
Mistake #5: Leaving the Cord Plugged In When Not in Use
Leaving a power extension cord plugged in when it is not in use can be a fire hazard. If the cable is left plugged in, it can overheat and start a fire. Be sure to unplug the cord when you are finished using it.
Extension Cords Are Not a Permanent Solution
Some people try to use extension cords permanently, but you are already using them wrong with that mindset. Extension cords are not meant to be used as a long-term solution; they are for temporary use only. If you need a longer-term solution, you should have an electrician install additional outlets or reroute your wiring.
They should not be used as permanent solutions to devices that run all the time. If a wire overheats, it could be in the middle of the night while everyone is sleeping. An unfortunate reality, but fires can and do happen, and it is often fatal when caught off guard, especially during sleep in most cases. Pay attention to these extension cord mistakes, so you don't become a victim of one.
By following these simple tips, you can avoid common mistakes people make with power extension cords. Be sure to always use caution when using electrical devices and cables. If you have any questions about power extension cords or electrical safety, please contact a qualified electrician.