The Complete Guide To Using An Extension Cord Safely

Blog / By / February 24, 2020

extension cords orange and yellow

Extension cords are handy, but they must be used with caution. Follow these extension cord safety tips to protect your household from fire and ensure that you choose the right type of wiring for your needs.

Remember that extension cords are, at best, a temporary solution. They are not designed to be permanent electrical fixtures, so if you need more outlets or a better electric system in your home, working with a professional is the way to go.

Keep Them Dry

Even outdoor extension cords are not intended to be run through the snow, rain or puddles. Electricity and water are never a good idea, so don’t try to risk it and see if it works. Plugging in anything to a wire that is in contact with water can have fatal consequences.

Only Use Safety-Approved Extension Cords

Look for cords that have the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL) label. You may also find some that have been tested and approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Avoid using all off-brand cords that are unable to be verified for safety.

Buy the Right Size

Extension cords vary in length as well as amperage limits. Make sure that you understand your electrical needs before you attempt to use an extension cord. Here’s a breakdown of cord lengths and their amperage.

20 to 50 Feet

  • 12-10-gauge (16-20 amps)
  • 14-gauge (14-15 amps)
  • 16-gauge (1-13 amps

Up to 100 Feet

  • 10-gauge (16-20 amps)
  • 12-gauge (14-15 amps)
  • 14-gauge (11-13 amps)
  • 16-gauge (1-10 amps)

150 Feet

  • 10-gauge (11-15 amps)
  • 12-gauge (8-10 amps)
  • 14-gauge (1-7 amps)

Check for Damages

Whenever you pull out an extension cord to use, make sure you thoroughly check the length of the wire for any cracks or punctures in the insulation. If you notice any, don’t try to patch it up with electrical tape and use it. Damaged wires and extension cords are always a risk, and it’s best to replace them.

Just make sure that you discard your old extension cords properly; look for an e-waste facility that can recycle its materials.For all your electric needs, contact GEN3 Electric & HVAC. Whether it’s about installing a new system or improving existing writing, our expert Philadelphia electricians are here to help. You can reach us on our site or call our office at 215-512-4102.