12 Electrical Safety Tips Every Homeowner Should Know
Electricity is dangerous, yet we rely on it every day. It causes about 31,000 home fires every year, resulting in around 200 deaths, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can avoid electrical damage, shocks, fires, electrocution, injuries, and death by following these electrical safety tips.
1. Beware of Overloaded Outlets
Many electrical problems result from overloaded outlets. If an overload occurs, the outlet may feel warm, look scorched, or have a burning odor. To avoid overloads, don’t connect appliances with extension cords or a multi-outlet converter, and only plug in one heat-producing appliance at a time. And always call an electrician for an outlet upgrade if you have two-prong outlets or old wiring connecting them.
2. Use Extension Cords Wisely
Never plug in an air conditioner, space heater, refrigerator, cooking appliance, hairdryer, or sump pump with an extension cord. If you use extension cords, they should only be used temporarily. Replace any cord that is frayed or cracked and never staple a power cord in place or run it under furniture or a rug. If you find yourself using extension cords often, consider adding more outlets.
3. Perform Routine Electrical Check-Ups
It’s a good idea to check on your electrical system from time to time. Make sure switches are working and that plugs fit snugly into outlets. Check the wattage on bulbs and make sure they’re compatible with the lamps they’re installed in. The insulation on wires should be intact and wires should not be pinched by windows, doors, nails, or staples. Also, make sure appliances and wiring aren’t in contact with water and that every product has the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) seal.
4. Learn the Signs of Trouble
Knowing the signs of electrical trouble can keep you out of danger. Call for electrical service immediately if you notice:
- Circuit breakers are tripping frequently
- Lamps, outlets, or appliances start to buzz
- Lights start to flicker or bulbs burn out quickly
- An electrical outlet sparks
- Electrical devices emit strange odors
- Outlets, switches, or lamp fixtures feel warm
- Wires have tears, teeth marks, or other signs of damage
- You receive a shock or burn
5. Keep All Outlets/Devices Away from Water
This is one of the most important electrical safety tips. Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If they mix, serious damage to appliances, and/or electrocution, can occur. Make sure your hands are dry before you work with any electrical equipment. Sinks, showers, bathtubs, aquariums, plant pots, and other source of water should be kept away from electrical devices and appliances. Even a waffle iron or hair dryer can cause serious problems if it gets wet.
6. Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
Check that there’s a GFCI in any room with running water. It monitors the circuit for disruptions in current that would cause a shock. Water is one factor that would disrupt the flow of electricity, so it’s important to have GFCIs in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. They’re only required in newer homes, but updating an older home with GFCI outlets can vastly improve your safety. And to further protect your home, consider installing an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI).
7. Leave Room for Air Circulation Around Appliances
Without proper circulation, electrical equipment can overheat, causing damage that shorts out devices. An electrical fire can result. To prevent this, don’t install electrical equipment in tight cabinets or near flammable items. Gas or electric dryers should be at least a foot away from the wall.
8. Make Sure Outlets Are Childproof
Toddlers and children are naturally curious when it comes to electrical outlets. To protect them from injury, install outlet covers or Tamper Resistant Receptacles, which use a spring-loaded cover to prevent foreign objects from being inserted. Only a plug will provide the right amount of pressure on both sides for the outlet to release.
9. Unplug Appliances You Don’t Use
Appliances should be unplugged if not being used. Otherwise, they can overheat or either cause or be damaged by a power surge. Unplugging appliances can prevent such events, whether you are home or on vacation. Doing so also cuts energy consumption as many appliances draw energy even when not in use.
10. Keep Exhaust Fans Clean
If an electrical appliance has an exhaust fan, remember to keep it clean. Fans can become dirty or clogged. Not only can this shorten the appliance’s life, but increase the risk of overheating, gas buildup, and fire. You can virtually eliminate this risk by simply cleaning out exhaust fans regularly.
11. Always Read Appliance Instructions
You should follow all the electrical safety tips on this list, but this one is commonly overlooked. Reading the instructions will help you understand how to operate an appliance safely and maintain it. If you ever get an electric shock from an appliance, contact a licensed electrician right away.
12. Avoid DIY Electrical Repair
Electrical repair requires specialized training, equipment, and tools. Few homeowners have the skills and gear to perform electrical work or safely navigate the process. At Express Electrical Services, our experienced technicians can safely take on any job, big or small. We’re also open 24/7 to address emergencies, avoid further damage, and eliminate safety risks.
Contact Us Today
Express Electrical Services is a family-owned contractor serving all of Southern California. Our customers benefit from 24-hour and same-day service whether they need installation, repair, or electrical maintenance help. We guarantee a response time of 60 to 90 minutes. To schedule service, request an appointment online or call 323-727-7799
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