Here are 7 electrical safety tips for homeowners:
Know the Electrical Panel
Your electrical panel is a useful tool when doing home renovation projects or when a breaker blows. Not all panels are well labeled, so spend some time figuring out what each switch is connected to by turning each one on and off. Keep a label maker handy and clearly label what each switch is connected to for reference later. If your electrical panel is ever warm to the touch, stop what you are doing and call an electrician. Getting a basic understanding of your electrical panel is an important part of being a homeowner.
Much like your electrical panel, your outlets should never be warm to the touch. If your house has warm outlets you need to call in an electrician ASAP as they are a fire risk. Avoid using warm outlets while you wait for them to be replaced.
Understand Risk Factors
Older homes come with their own set of risk factors when it comes to electricity. Homes built decades ago weren’t designed to handle the electrical load we have in our modern, device driven age. Every 3 - 5 years go through an electrical safety inspection with a licensed electrician to insure your home is still able to handle all the electrical current your family uses.
Listen to Your Breakers
Pay attention to when your breakers blow. While it feels like an inconvenience, your electrical system is trying to tell you something. For example, you may have too many small appliances plugged into one circuit. If you pay attention to these warning signs then you’ll be able to prevent them from happening. If you have breakers blowing often then call in an electrician. They can work on your electrical panel to distribute power more evenly.
When it Doubt, Shut it Off
If you’re working on a project and aren’t sure if a cord is live or not, turn off the circuit. Electricity is not something you want to mess with, so take every precaution possible to keep yourself safe.
Extension Cords are Temporary
It’s common practice to use extension cords as a permanent solution to a lack of outlets or poorly placed outlets. While this seems harmless, extension cords are a temporary solution and are not designed for long term use. If your home is in need of more outlets to handle your electricity usage, call an electrician to have them install a few.
Make Use of GFCIs
Rooms with running water or even basements prone to flooding, should all be fitted with ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI outlets, to prevent electrical shock. These outlets will shut off an electrical current whenever it detects a shock hazard. In newer homes, GFCIs are become mandatory. If you live in an older home it is a good idea to get them installed. When you go to sell your home, lack of GFCIs will come up on inspection.
Stay safe, and remember, when it doubt cut the power and call a professional!