With technology advancing at the rate that it is today, our homes are needing to power more and more appliances. When building a home this can be taken into account but unfortunately, if you live in an older home, it may not be equipped with enough electrical outlets to support this demand. This is where extension cords come in handy! Extension cords can be a great help- when used correctly. If not, they can become overloaded, overheat, and even cause a fire. For your and your home’s safety, WiCKS Electrical would like to share some tips on how to use an extension cord safely.

Overloading and Overheating

Unfortunately, a multi-way extension cord does not necessarily mean that it is safe to use all of the plugs at the same time. Every extension cord has a current-carrying capacity, which is the maximum current that it can carry without exceeding its temperature rating. Trying to power appliances beyond their capacity or trying to power too many appliances at once may lead to the extension cord being overloaded.

Essentially, when an extension cord is overloaded the appliances plugged into it are drawing more power than it is designed to carry. As a result, the wires could heat, melt and become a very serious fire hazard without you even knowing it. This picture, taken at one of my jobs, is a good example of what could happen to the wires of an overloaded extension cord.

An overloaded extension cord usually leads to overheating, something that could happen at the socket, plug, or along the length of the cord. Here are a few signs of overloading and overheating to keep an eye out for:

  • Damaged or frayed wires
  • The smell of hot plastic or burning near the appliance or extension cord
  • Blackness or scorch marks around the socket or plugs
  • Sparks or smoke coming from the socket or plugs

How To Use An Extension Cord Safely

Extension cords, in a way, are similar to humans. They are super handy when they’re looked after but burn out when they are overloaded and exceed capacity. Here are a few tips to make sure that your extension cord is being used safely:

  • Take note of its current-carrying capacity
  • Only use indoor extension cords indoors
  • Never run extension cords under furniture or carpets
  • Never try to alter or repair an extension cord
  • Learn to let go- if a cord shows any signs of damage, you need to throw it away and buy a new one

How WiCKS Can Help You Today

As a frequent user of extension cords, I understand their benefits but as an electrician, I also understand their dangers. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call Wayne today on 082 924 4775.