2 Bad Habits That Might Make Your Electrician Cringe

Posted on: 15 July 2015

As you go about your daily life, you might focus more on getting things done than abiding by safe electrical practices. Unfortunately, if you make a few missteps, you might damage your home's electrical wiring or spark a house fire. Here are two bad habits that might make your electrician cringe, and how to avoid trouble:

1: Going Rogue With the Light Bulb Wattages

Have you ever tried to brighten up a dark basement or a room shaded by a large outdoor tree? If you are like most people, you probably targeted those old lighting fixtures first. When an inspection of those antiquated dome lights and lamps turned up 60-watt bulbs, you probably decided to give them an upgrade—switching them out for brighter 100-watt versions. Unfortunately, your lighter, brighter room may have also become more dangerous.

Most people don't realize it, but the wires that power dome lights, lamps, and can lighting are only designed to handle a certain amount of current. When you plug in a light bulb with a higher wattage, you might be pushing those electrical lines to their limit. As wires struggle to power that new bulb, they can even generate heat—melting wiring and potentially starting house fires.

The next time you decide that a room needs a little more light, consider hiring a professional electrician to install additional dome lights or better wiring. If your lamps are the problem, shop around for new lighting fixtures designed to handle larger bulb capacities. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but it could save your home. 

2: Getting Creative With Extension Cords

When it comes to rearranging your living room or installing a new sound system, you might only have one thing standing in your way: the number of available wall outlets. However, if you are like most folks, you might dig around in your garage until you find an extension cord. After all, if all of your appliances work, what harm could that permanently placed extension cord do?

Unfortunately, extension cords aren't meant to be used permanently, and doing so could cause real problems in the long run. In fact, faulty extension cords are thought to cause around 3,300 house fires a year. Here are a few problems you might run into if you decide to get creative with your extension cords:  

  • Daisy Chaining Cords: Like lighting fixture wiring, extension cords are only designed to handle a set amount of amperage. If you daisy-chain extension cords together and then use the cable to power multiple appliances, you might surpass the limit, which could cause the device to fail, melt, or spark.
  • Running Cords Under Carpets: Nobody likes to look at an unsightly extension cord or cable, which is why a lot of folks choose to run them underneath carpets. Unfortunately, when cords are subjected to foot traffic, they can be damaged internally, creating arc faults. Arc faults, which occur when the protective insulation around cords is damaged, can send out sparks of molten metal and get as hot as 5,000 to 15,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, if those cables are underneath your carpet, you might not be able to spot mangled cords until it is too late.

To avoid house fires, experts recommend checking extension cords for damage regularly and never using them for an extended period of time. If you have extension cords currently in place around your house, remove them right away. To have additional wall outlets installed, contact a professional electrician who can inspect your system, run extra lines, and install new outlets.

By knowing which electrical mistakes could lead to disaster, you might be able to protect your home and your family.