How Extension Cords Cause Fires

Extension cords can create big problems for homeowners. Extension cord misuse is a leading cause of “electrical distribution fires,” or fires that are caused by overloaded circuits.

The National Fire Prevention Association estimates that roughly half of home electrical fires can be traced back to electrical distribution issues. You have to understand that any given outlet can only take so much.

Extension cords are only supposed to be temporary measures. You are inviting trouble if you try to use them long-term to load 4 or 5 appliances onto one outlet.

You should also avoid running extension cords under rugs, particularly in high-traffic areas. As people walk over the rugs they often fray the extension cord’s insulation, which is just asking for a fire. But you might never know it’s happening, because it’s “out of sight, out of mind.”

You also need to match prongs to plugs. Don’t use extension cords to turn an old-style 2-prong outlet into a 3-prong outlet, for example. You’ll only seem to have the safety of a ground on your side, and you cold be in for a bad shock later.

If you use surge protectors you also need to be absolutely sure that they have internal overload protection. And just because the strip has six plugs in it does not mean that you necessarily want to plug six things into it.

And whether you are using surge protectors or extension cords you should avoid plugging heavy-duty appliances into them. This includes things like microwaves and space heaters.

If an extension cord ever feels hot to the touch, unplug it right away. That’s a sign that a fire is brewing!

If you find yourself using a lot of extension cords to handle your electric needs then it’s time to call in a qualified, licensed electrician to see about adding additional outlets and wiring to your home. While electrical work can seem expensive you can’t skimp when it comes to your family’s safety.

If you’re in the Triangle area, call us. We’ve been serving the Raleigh-Durham area for over 25 years and we’re happy to come give you our clean, courteous service as well.

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