When you are a busy homeowner, you might be more focused on keeping up with work and hauling your kids where they need to go than electrical safety. However, failure to take electricity seriously can cost you. In fact, every year there are more than 30,000 reported shock-related injuries and 2,600 deaths from house fires. Here are three electrical no-no's that you should pay more attention to.
1: Permanent Extension Cord Use
As you rearrange your living room furniture or install that new flat screen television, it can be frustrating to discover that your installed electrical outlets don't offer enough plugs to power your devices. Despite bright warning tags and years of warnings from news organizations, many homeowners decide to remedy the situation by grabbing an extension cord and snaking it around furniture or underneath flooring.
Unfortunately, extension cords can be much more dangerous than most people realize. Because they are portable and heavily used, most extension cords endure years of abuse before they are permanently parked behind your entertainment center. Over time, the wires inside of these cords can become damaged, which can lead to shorts that heat up quickly and cause sudden house fires.
Even brand new extension cords can develop problems eventually, especially if they are smashed against the wall or installed under furniture. For example, one Massachusetts family placed an extension cord underneath a bed leg, which eventually frayed and started a blaze that caused $50,000 worth of damage to their home.
If you want to avoid electrical house fires, only use extension cords on a temporary basis. If you find that you need more electrical plugs in your home to power your goods, hire a professional electrician to run additional lines and to install extra outlets.
2: Ignoring Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlets
If you are like most people, you probably take those funny-looking outlets in your bathroom for granted. Instead of checking them regularly to keep your family safe, you might wish that the weird buttons blended in better with your restroom décor.
However, these strange looking electrical receptacles, also referred to as GFCI outlets, are essential for any area where water might contact electricity. GFCI outlets work by monitoring electrical output, and shutting down the outlet when too much current starts flowing. Unfortunately, old or damaged GFCI outlets might not click off like they should, which could cause you some real problems if your electric toothbrush base falls into your filled sink while you are washing your face.
To make sure that your bathroom outlets are working properly, experts recommend testing your GFCI receptacles monthly. Fortunately, you can test your outlets easily by plugging in a night-light and pressing the "test" button. If the light turns off until you push "reset," the outlet is working properly. However, if the light stays on, your outlet might be worn out.
If your outlets fail the test, hire a professional electrician to replace them right away. Not only will switching out your damaged GFCI outlets keep you safe, but you might be able to choose new versions that match your bathroom paint color a little better.
3: Using the Wrong Light Bulbs
If you are like most people, you might completely disregard those "recommended wattage" stickers that come plastered around the inside of your new lamp and install a brighter bulb than you should. Because a simple bulb switch-out seems like a cheap and effective way to resolve a problem, most people overlook the potential dangers that improper usage can cause.
Because lighting fixtures are wired to handle certain amounts of electrical current, using the wrong bulb might mean that the system can become overloaded and damaged. Wires can become brittle and frayed, or the actual fixture can overheat and start a fire.
To keep your home damage-free, pay attention to the labels and never use the wrong bulb for the job. If you find that you need to brighten up your space, work with a professional electrical contractor to install additional lighting fixtures.
Being familiar with the real dangers behind the electrical usage mistakes might help you to make better decisions so that your family can stay safe. Visit sites like http://www.advantageelectricians.com for more information.