Extension Cord Safety: A Comprehensive Guide
We all know the basics of using an extension cord. But do you know about extension cord safety? Without taking the right safety precautions, using an extension cord can put you, and your home, at risk of an electrical accident. If you’re planning on using extension cords to add to your outdoor lighting or simply need to extend an outlet, you must also keep in mind extension cord safety.
To help achieve this, Roman Electric has assembled a comprehensive guide. Follow our tips below for your Milwaukee home!
Avoid Using Damaged Extension Cords
Before using an extension cord, you’ll want to check its condition. Extension cords can receive a fair bit of damage throughout their lifespan. Exposed cords, frayed wires, or cracked plugs can cause an extension cord’s electrical flow to become uneven. This can cause a short circuit, which can trip the circuit breaker and potentially cause shock.
Don’t risk using a damaged extension cord. Check each cord’s condition before use and discard any cords with noticeable damages.
See What Conditions Your Extension Cord is Suitable For
Damages aren’t the only thing you should check your extension cord for. You must also check to see if it is suited for indoor or outdoor use.
On the cord you may find several different letter symbols. Each letter indicates a quality about the extension cord, including whether or not it can handle outdoor weather conditions. Below are some common letters you’ll find on an extension cord, and their associated meaning.
- S – Suited for General Usage
- W – Suited for Outdoor Usage
- J – Cord has 300V Insulation
- T – Cord is Made from Vinyl Thermoplastic
- O – Cord has Oil Resistance
After examining the letters, you’ll need to also look at the amperage rating. This determines how much capacity an extension cord can handle. As a rule, the higher the amperage rating, the higher capacity of the extension cord. Here are some examples:
- 1-13 Amperage Rating – Light Duty, suitable for lamps, desk fans, and other small appliances.
- 14-15 Amperage Rating – Medium Duty, suitable for power drills, lawn mowers, and hedge trimmers.
- 16-20 Amperage Rating – Heavy Duty, suitable for power saws, space heaters, and air compressors.
Note: Be aware that the longer the extension cord, the less power it can distribute. Therefore, use a cord only as long as you need.
Match Extension Cord Prongs with The Outlet
An extension cord’s plug can either have two or three prongs. If the plug has two prongs, then it can fit in either a two or three-prong outlet. Two-prongs lack a connection to the ground. Ground is used to safely transfer electricity and help prevent electrical shock. Keep this in mind when using a two-prong extension cord.
If the extension cord’s plug has three prongs, then it can only be used with a three-prong outlet. The third prong acts as a ground and is safer to use than two-prong outlets. However, they cannot fit in two-prong outlets.
Note: Do NOT attempt to cut off the third prong of an extension cord to use with a two-prong outlet. This can create unstable electrical flow and may damage the connected appliance or cause severe shock.
Avoid Connecting Multiple Extension Cords
Extension cords should never be paired together. Combining extension cords can lead to excessive voltage, as electrical resistance is lowered the more cords are combined. This can lead to an electrical overload, which trips your circuit breaker.
Speaking of tripping, multiple extension cords can also be a fall hazard. Avoid tripping your circuit breaker – and yourself by only using one extension cord at a time. Be sure to run them along walls and away from heavy traffic areas as well.
Do Not Substitute Extension Cords for Permanent Wiring
Above all, you must always remember that extension cords are a temporary solution. They do not possess the capacity to be a permanent replacement for an electrical outlet. If you find yourself heavily relying on extension cords, you may require more outlets in your home. Contact Roman Electric for affordable outlet installation services.
Never use an extension cord without first reading our comprehensive guide! And remember to only use extension cords are a temporary solution for an outlet. If you are in need of additional electrical outlets in your Milwaukee home, contact Roman Electric today. Call us at 414-771-5400 for affordable outlet installation services.