Three Common Electrical Hazards You Can Fix Yourself

Posted on: 6 October 2016

Although some electrical hazards require an electrician's help to prevent an electrical fire or electrocution, there's actually quite a lot of danger that Americans put themselves in every day by careless or ignorant use of their electrical system. Here are three common hazards found in American homes that you can remedy simply by changing your own habits.

1. Overloaded outlets It may seem odd that you can buy power strips and other splitting devices at all if it's unsafe to plug multiple devices into one outlet. However, it's still true that overdrawing the power on an outlet can cause an electrical hazard. If you do regularly use such devices, you're probably creating a fire risk. If you don't want to give it up, though, you can simply check the amount of power each appliance is drawing. If it's over 1500 watts, try switching out one of the devices for one with lower power draw and plug the one with higher power draw into a less-used outlet. If you're unsure if you're overloading, consult your electrician about how much your home's outlets can handle.  

2. Damaged cords Although you know it's unsafe to use a damaged extension cord or appliance cord, this happens more often than you'd expect. In fact, you can easily use a damaged cord unknowingly. For example, if you have an appliance that makes heat (such as a griddle or a space heater), the plastic coating around the cord may become melted during operation, leaving you with an unsafe appliance. For this reason it's best to inspect each cord each time you use the appliance. And never intentionally use a cord in a way that might damage it (such as laying an extension cord across a walkway).  

3. Incorrect use of appliances or extension cords Just like outlets, extension cords can easily be overloaded. You should never plug a splitter into an extension cord, and always check its capabilities before plugging something into it. Extension cords come in all sizes, so a lightweight one may not be able to handle a heavy-draw appliance such as a large microwave. Unsafe appliance use such as running a space heater unattended or leaving it too close to other items, setting things on lampshades, or operating lamps or heaters (or other hazardous appliances) on a surface that's not level can also be dangerous mistakes.  

These hazards can all usually be remediated by simply changing your electrical habits. However, if you find yourself unable to use your electrical outlets safely because there are so few that your normal daily life overloads all of them, you probably have a bigger problem such as an outdated wiring system, which could require rewiring your house. Be sure to get an electrical inspection done every few years so you're alerted to any major problems like this that require professional repairs. For more information, contact local professionals like C & R Electric, Inc.