Signs it’s Time to Replace an Old Electrical Extension Cord

Electrical Safety tips from a licensed Indianapolis electrician

We use electrical extension cords for everything from the connection of holiday lights, to extending the power supply to our leaf blowers and construction tools. They are an “extension” of our home’s electrical system and are essential to have around the house or garage. Earlier this month we told you about how to prepare your home’s electrical system for winter, and the importance of replacing old electrical cords. Today, we’re going to show you ten signs it’s time to replace those old cords.

Sign #1: The cord is too loose.

If you tend to remove the extension cord from the outlet by yanking on the cord instead of pulling the plug, you may notice that some of your cords are no longer securely attached to their plugs. If so, replace them and remember to only remove them by the plug, not the cord.

Sign #2: The cord is too short.

If your cord is too short, you may be tempted to attach several cords together to reach where you want them to go. This can cause overloading and overheating. Instead of connecting several cords, just get a cord that is the right length for the job.

Sign #3: The cord is hot to the touch.

A cord that is hot to the touch is likely being loaded beyond its capacity. Overheating is a major cause of worn extension cords and is a real safety hazard. Immediately replace any cords that feel hot.

Sign #4: An indoor cord is being used outdoors.

Indoor cords being used outside pose a shock or fire hazard, so always be sure you’re using the right cord in the right place. Outdoor cords are usually yellow, green, or orange. Indoor cords are usually brown or white and have a rib running down the middle.

Sign #5: The cord has cracked insulation.

Regularly check cords for any sign of exterior damage including cracks, nicks, cuts, or frays. If the protective coating is damaged in any way, it’s time to replace it. If you notice damage to an extension cord, don’t try to repair it – throw it out.

Sign #6: The cord lacks a safety certification.

That great deal you find on an extension cord could cause you problems in the long run. Only buy cords that are UL certified. A cord that is not certified may not have the proper amount of wire in it and could pose a safety hazard.

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Sign #7: The cord runs under carpets or through windows.

To prolong the life of your cord, never run it under carpet or furniture, or through windows or doorways. Cords wear out from physical abuse, not from electricity running through them. Foot traffic will quickly wear down the insulation, causing cracks and other fire hazards. Plus, if you can’t see a cord, you won’t be able to tell if it is damaged or getting overheated. If it really seems necessary to have cords running under carpets, it’s time to have new outlets installed by a licensed electrician.

Sign #8: The cord has the wrong electrical rating for the job.

Ensure you’re using a cord that is rated for the appliance you’ve plugged it into. If you’re not sure which cord you should be using, talk to your local hardware store.

Sign #9: The cord is missing important safety features.

Those old extension cords you’ve had since the 80’s may not be safe anymore. Check your cords for modern safety features, such as polarized blades (one prong is slightly larger than the other so the plug can only go in the outlet one way), and a large plug face that covers the outlet’s slots. If your cords are out of date, it’s time to replace them.

Sign #10: The cord is nailed or stapled to the wall.

Nailing or stapling cords to a wall can damage them, making them a fire hazard. If you have a need for electricity in an area your cords don’t reach, call a licensed electrician to install a new outlet.

Need new electrical outlets installed in Indiana?

Whether you need new outlets installed, or want to upgrade your older home’s electrical system, Grounded Solutions is the right choice for the job. Our licensed and highly trained electricians have been providing the highest quality service to Indianapolis and surrounding areas for over 15 years. Give us a call today!

Need a licensed electrician now? Contact Grounded Solutions here or call (317) 834-1922

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