The appliances throughout your home are a staple of modern life. But none of them would function without reliable electrical service. However, residential electrical infrastructure is so robust and reliable that it’s easy to take it for granted. As a result, plenty of homeowners fall into some bad habits when it comes to their electrical appliances. Left uncorrected, those mistakes can damage your appliances, costing you money and posing a risk to your home’s safety. Here are four big electrical mistakes to avoid that can damage your appliances.
1. Overstretching Electrical Cords
Although most homes have outlets in convenient locations, that doesn’t mean you’ll always find one near every appliance you wish to use. Sometimes, though, there’ll be an outlet that’s just close enough to an appliance that it’s possible to plug it in by stretching its power cord to the limit. You shouldn’t ever do this, however.
For one thing, a power cord that’s stretched to its limit can be a tripping hazard, depending on its location. But worse still, it increases the chance that the appliance’s plug will slip partially out of the outlet. When that happens, it could cause electrical arcing that will damage the plug, the outlet, and possibly the nearby wall. In extreme cases, it could even ignite a fire.
2. Using the Wrong Gauge Extension Cord
If you do have an appliance that won’t quite reach an outlet, your next option is to use an extension cord. However, not all extension cords are created equal. Extension cords come in different wire gauges and have current ratings listed on their packaging. You must choose an extension cord that can handle the power demands of the appliance you’re trying to power.
Using an inadequate extension cord would lead to the cord overheating when you use your appliance. This is a result of the resistance in the wire building up because you’re drawing more current than it’s designed to accommodate. When this happens, the cord itself could get damaged. Or, it could damage the appliance you’ve plugged in and lead to a fire. In any case, it’s a mistake to avoid.
3. A Lack of GFCI Outlets
In most homes, the majority of large electrical appliances happen to be in a single place, and that’s the kitchen. Unfortunately, your kitchen is also the most likely place where you could have a leak or spill water near an outlet. Of course, water and electricity don’t mix. Wetting an outlet can cause a short circuit and damage anything plugged into it.
The good news is that ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets can protect your appliances from damage when an outlet gets wet. They contain specialized circuitry that monitors the flow of electricity through the outlet at all times. If the GFCI outlet senses even the tiniest fluctuation in the flow of power, it will trip like a circuit breaker. This instantaneously cuts the power to the outlet and whatever’s plugged into it. Not only can this protect you from a shock if the outlet gets wet, but it will also protect the appliance you’ve plugged in from suffering any harm.
4. Failing To Upgrade Ungrounded Outlets
When homes first started getting electrical wiring installed, two-prong ungrounded outlets were the standard. However, even though grounded outlets appeared on the market in the early 1900s, the US National Electric Code didn’t make them mandatory in new home installations until 1974. As a result, there are still lots of homes that have ungrounded outlets installed in them.
Of course, you can purchase adapters that allow you to plug a three-prong grounded plug into a two-prong ungrounded outlet. But when you do this, you’re risking damage to the device or appliance you’re plugging in. That’s because a grounded outlet provides somewhere for electricity to safely flow in the event of a power surge. Without the ground available, that power could give you a shock or destroy any appliance you have plugged into the outlet. So, it’s a good idea to have your home’s outlets and wiring upgraded to include a ground wire or to replace ungrounded outlets with GFCI outlets for added protection.
Your Trusted Local Electrician
Since 1938, GVEC Electrician Services has delivered reliable and affordable electricity in South Central Texas. We’re your local electricity experts. We can help you with all of your home’s electrical needs, including electrical wiring, electrical upgrades, whole home surge protection, interior and exterior lighting, and inspection services. In other words, we’re the only name you need to know for electrical services, and we’re known for offering flawless workmanship at fair prices.
For all of your home’s electrical service needs in South Central Texas, call GVEC Electrician Services today!