Nobody wants to start a fire inside their home. Whether a kitchen fire, electrical fire, or something else, there’s no greater scare for the average homeowner. Fire hazards happen for a number of reasons, but in this article we’ll discuss one of the top fire hazards: when extension cords overheat. For the most part, these fires can be prevented with education, as most of the time they’re caused by negligence and improper usage of the appliances. Let’s get into the article.
Why Do Extension Cords Get Hot?
Here are the three reasons extension cords get hot. Keep in mind, getting hot doesn’t always result in a fire. That said, there is always a risk of fire if the extension cord is hot.
- Overload. You can overload an extension cord, which can cause overheating. This happens when multiple electronics are plugged into the same outlet. For the outlet to overload, the electronics have to surpass the rating of the cord. It can also happen when you link extension cords – extension cords should never be linked because that can push it to work past its limit. Another reason for overload is certain devices. Certain devices on their own cause overheating. That may include certain phones, chargers, laptops, lamps, and other devices. Space heaters and air conditioners cause a lot of heat and power, therefore circulating a large amount of current. To avoid overload, you should use only a couple of devices at a time OR you should switch to a heavy duty cord that can handle more current. Also, know your cord’s wattage and the power rating of your device. Being aware is often the best way to ensure your extension cords won’t get hot.
- Damaged Extension Cords. Overheating can be caused by damaged electrical cords. The truth is, wear and tear can cause your extension cord to overheat, short circuit or even give you a bad electrical shock. This can happen anywhere within the terminal connection – at the male or female end. If you’re rough with your cords or don’t use them the right way, it’s likely you’ll damage them permanently at some point. Besides that, wires degrade naturally over time – everything does. Cords will naturally lose their durability much faster if they get used often.
- Using the Wrong Cord. If you’re using an indoor wire outside or an outside wire inside, you may be adding unnecessary wear to your cord, which can cause it to overheat. Cords rated for indoor use have thin insulation that gets damaged easily. That’s why they should never be used outside. Yet, when people put holiday decorations outside, they sometimes do it using an indoor extension cord. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap. Use the appropriate extension cord every time in order to avoid overheating and ensure the safety of your extension cords.
- Covering the Cords. Never cover your cords with anything – especially not with rugs. Yet, so many people do it. In fact, many bloggers, and interior design-related home magazines tell people to hide their extension cords under rugs and the like in an effort to streamline their home into a more pleasing design look. Why shouldn’t you use a rug to hide an extension cord? It’s simple. Cords get warm with natural use – and, whenever things get warm, they shouldn’t be covered because that leads to more heat.
Is it Normal for Extension Cords to Get Hot?
Yes and no. When an extension cord is running optimally it gets hot when plugged into a high-powered device. Your cord should never get hot if you’re using a low-load appliance. Also, don’t misuse your cords. Don’t overload them, because that could lead to potential hazards, including the risk of an electrical fire.
The Reality About Heat & Extension Cords
If you know why extension cords get hot, you’ll be better at detecting the reasons for a bad electrical connection. Plus, you’ll be in a safer situation overall. The top rule to follow when it comes to extension cords is, buy new cords every time the old one is getting too worn. Also, don’t try to fix the wires by yourself, instead you should call a professional repairman or just get a new wire. When it comes to electricity, you don’t want to use products that are subpar.
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