When to Fix-It-Yourself and When to Call an Electrician

Messing with electrical appliances and components is serious business. Hello, my name is George Tanner. I’m a retired electrician. I can’t even begin to tell you how many horror stories I heard over the years of working as an electrician. People who thought they could quickly fix something in their homes but never should have even tried. Some got hurt and others were lucky. My goal here is to provide you with some guidelines as to what electrical malfunctions are easily fixable by nearly any adult, and what you should never attempt on your own. One thing you are going to hear me stress more than once is that electrical components are not to be taken lightly. We protect our children from them; we also have to protect ourselves. I hope you find this blog to be helpful!

5 Tips For Safe Outdoor Use Of Extension Cords

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Have you ever wanted to put up holiday lights but were afraid to do so because you worried that you'd start a fire if it started to snow and the cord got wet? Or, is the idea of having a travel trailer in your backyard enticing but the thought of providing power to it for your in-law's extended two-week vacation a bit intimidating? If you have ever wondered how to temporarily supply power to an outdoor location safely with an extension cord, here are 3 tips that will set your mind at ease.

Choose to Use Cords Rated for Outdoors

Choose a cord that has been specifically manufactured for outdoor use. This fact will be clearly mentioned on the store label. Outdoor cords have a thicker, weather resistant jacket, as well as modified connectors that prevent water from seeping inside the cord to the metal wiring. Even though they are rated for outdoor use, it is still important to never expose the cord to standing water. In addition, it is important to select a cord with a wiring gauge that can safely deliver the wattage that your trailer or spectacular light display requires. Cords with 16 gauge wires safely deliver power to small appliances, while lower gauge wire, such as 12 gauge, are needed for heavy duty power tools. 

Store the Cord Properly When Not In Use And Always Do an Inspection Prior to Plugging It In

Extension cords should be loosely wrapped and stored inside once you've finished using them. They are made of durable materials, but if they are left outside for extended periods of time, that material will crack and fray. This damage increases the potential for sparking and fires. When cords are hung from nails or other hard materials, the risk of damage increases. Instead of hanging them, they should lie flat on the ground. Before use, always inspect the cord for cracks or exposed wiring.

Lower the Temperature for Safer Use

While it might be tempting to keep your work area tidy by keeping long extension cords coiled, they will remain much cooler when they are fully extended. Cords should never be plugged into each other or covered with any materials while in storage. In addition, they should not be run through walls or attics. All of these choices raise the heat level in the cord and increase the potential for a fire.

Extension cords should never be used outside on a permanent basis. If you regularly need electricity outside of your home, hire a residential electrician to run power lines and install an electrical outlet. Your home will be much safer.

 

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11 August 2015