Electrical utilities are essential to everyday life, but can of course be very dangerous if handled improperly. Using outlets, cords, and fixtures correctly will help you avoid energy disasters. Here are our top five most common home electrical hazards and their solutions:
Outlet Overload: Outlets are not eternal suppliers of energy. Plugging in too many devices or one device that demands a huge amount of electricity to run will burn up the outlet and render it useless. Avoid using too many plugs in one outlet, and check the energy needs of large consumers like heaters before using it.
Faulty GFI: GFIs, or ground fault interrupters, are safety mechanisms that prevent electrocution. They are required in outlets that are in parts of the house where electrical shock is likely to occur, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors. Over time, however, GFIs can become faulty. The outlet may work, but the protection is gone. It is impossible to tell when a GFI has deteriorated without a GFI tester, which is a fairly inexpensive device available to buy in stores or online.
Covering Extension Cords: Covering up extension cords can lead to fires. Heat from the cord is trapped when it is laid under rugs or behind cabinets that are shoved against the wall. Make sure your extension cords have room to cool.
Installing the Wrong Light Bulb: All fixtures are rated for a certain wattage of bulb, similar to outlets. Installing the wrong lamp can burn up the fixture and the wiring above it. Always check the wattage on a fixture, and buy the correct light bulbs.
Lack of Surge Protectors: Power surges come from many different sources and can cause major damage to devices without a surge protector. Computers and TVs especially will need that barrier when lighting strikes. Not all surge protectors are created equal: you will need to look at what it can protect against, and how many devices it can protect at a time. For instance, TVs have three lines that require protection: the TV cable wire, the phone line, and the TV power plug.
Questions about electrical safety? Reach out to member David Burtner, Burtner Electric.