Your life and your families lives could depend on it.
Every year there are countless house fires and deaths due to electrical shock from faulty wiring, bad cords, lack of GFI's and so on.
There is no way that I can cover all these hazards in this short article but if we can cover just a few and make you more aware of what to look for, then this will be a great help.
One of the most common dangers I see in existing homes are missing or damaged plate covers.
Switches and receptacles alike may cause a serious shock and under the right conditions even death.
Plates range from a few cents to many dollars each depending on how fancy you decide to make them.
Any plate is better than no plate at all.
Plastic plates today sell for as little as 19 cents each.
If you have little ones at home, the use of child safety plastic plugs in your outlets is another great idea.
Kids love to stick things into the plug holes.
A wet Popsicle stick can give a heck of a jolt to a child in a wet diaper sitting on a concrete floor.
Incorrectly sized extension cords are another hazard.
Air conditioners seem to be one of the worst abuses.
Do not use a lamp cord to plug in your AC.
The light gauge cord will overheat and can easily start a fire.
Do not put cords under the carpets.
Again, the cord may overheat and start a fire even if it is the correct size.
Make sure the round ground lug on your cord is in good condition and not bent or broken.
Make sure there are no cuts or tears in the outside jacket of the cord.
Cords placed under foot traffic or perhaps a door opening may have abrasions caused by rubbing and subsequent damage to the wires inside even though the exterior jacket is not cut.
Check it out carefully.
Ground Fault receptacles (GFI's) are now required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) in all unfinished basements, garages, exterior lights and outlets (except roof heating cables for snow), bathrooms, kitchens among other areas.
New homes most often use GFI circuit breakers in the panels so there are no test buttons on the outlets themselves.
Older homes usually have GFI's that contain a red and black button for testing and activating the outlet.
Push the red button once in awhile to assure the outlet is working.
These outlet types have saved thousands of lives by preventing severe shocks in wet areas of the home.
An occasional check to see that panel covers are in place, outlet and switch covers are installed, electrical boxes in the basement or attic have the proper covers and other general housekeeping can provide a much safer home for yourself and your family.
Pete Your Friendly Building Inspector http://www.
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