Everybody thinks they can become the next DIY master but mishandling electrical issues can lead to disaster. With so many extra devices in use during the holidays, homeowners need to special attention to electrical safety.
Avoiding these common electrical mistakes can help save your home, your family, and your homeowners insurance premiums!
Faulty Lighting or Decorations
Light sockets may be cracked, wires can be frayed, and connections can become loose. Always check your decorations beforehand and replace faulty items with ones approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Decorations are the cause of one in four house fires during the holidays.
Overloading electrical circuits during the holidays can lead to a house fire. Don’t plug multiple extension cords or power strips into one circuit and then fill them with multiple cords. Spread the load across many outlets and circuits.
If a breaker continually trips or a fuse keeps blowing, don’t think of it as inconvenience. These are safety features meant to protect you. The circuit is overloaded – use fewer devices.
If the outlet behind the cover moves electrical wires can loosen and shift. This can cause wires to arc, overheat, and start a fire. Always switch off the power at the box and tighten the plugin as soon as you notice a problem.
There’s a reason electrical connections are made inside boxes. Boxes protect wires from damage and create a barrier between wires and flammable materials.
Never connect wires outside of an electrical box and always use approved cables with an exterior sheath.
Extension Cord Errors
Using an indoor extension cord for an outdoor application is very dangerous. Always choose an extension cord marked “suitable for use with outdoor appliances” and plug into a ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI. It shuts off the power in as little as 1/40 of a second should a device fail. Alternatively buy an extension cord with a built-in GFCI.
Match the amperage of your device to the amperage of the extension cord too. A 15 amp circuit requires 14-gauge wire and a 20 amp circuit needs 12-gauge wire. Running too much power through a cord can cause arcing.
Do not remove the third pin on an extension cord. This is the ground that prevents shock should a device fail. Don’t string extension cords together either.
Check that extension cords are not pinched under furniture, doors, windows, or other objects as this can damage the sheathing and lead to fires.
Incandescent lights produce heat and consume more electricity than LED lights. This is especially worrisome during the holidays when homeowners join multiple strings of lights together. Consider switching and never string more than three lengths of incandescent lights together.
Leaving Devices On Constantly
Leaving lights and decorations on consumes energy and it is dangerous. Switch them off when you leave the house or go to bed. Just one faulty decoration or light could lead to a fire.
Never leave a space heater unattended and always ensure it is well away from flammable materials while operating.