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Phoenix Home Inspector Tips

As Phoenix home inspectors, we often think about electrical safety.  The general public, conversely, probably uses electrical extension cords without giving them much thought.  Did you know that accidents from extension cords kill around 50 people annually, injure another 4,000 and cause several thousand household fires?  Perhaps we should all brush up on the rules for using extension cords.

The first set of rules are that extension cords are only to be used for providing temporary power.  They are not to be installed in a permanent application as a substitute for structure wiring.  Beyond that, they may not be run through holes in walls, ceilings or floors.  They should not be run through windows or doors unless protected from damage and they may not be attached to the building or concealed within building cavities.

Next, you need to select the proper sized extension cord.  Using the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system you will discover that the lower the wire gauge number, the more capacity the extension cord has (and the thicker the cord is).  A house is commonly wired with a combination of 12 gauge and 14 gauge wires in the walls for receptacles.  The 12 gauge wire can safely carry 20 amps and the 14 gauge wire can safely carry 15 amps.  When using an extension cord for light duty applications you can often safely use wires with a higher AWG number than if you are powering appliances or power tools.  To be safe, add up the entire connected load in amps and be sure that it falls below the capacity of the wire.

Finally, if your use for the extension cord is outdoors, be sure the cord is rated for outdoor applications.  The extension cord should be specifically marked if it is approved for outdoor use.  Also, always use the shortest length cord that will work for the application to prevent overheating of the extension cord.

We hope this valuable information from your friends at Advantage Inspection Service in Phoenix helps keep you safe this year and for years to come.


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