Every home uses electricity daily, but many of us overlook the most basic of electrical safety tips. We depend on electricity for a lot of things from lighting our interiors to powering energy-intensive appliances, but it’s easy to forget just how dangerous it can be. Improper use of electrical outlets can result in injury and, in extreme cases, death. Mismanaged use of outlets and extension cords can also put significant strain on appliances, shortening their operational life and increasing energy consumption.
However, it’s relatively easy to maintain high levels of electrical safety around the home. That being said, there’s a lot to consider. You’ll need to think about the placement of appliances, cord usage and organisation, maintenance, and much more. To help you make sense of electrical safety, our experienced team at Brosnan Property Solutions have put together a list of 10 of the most essential tips every homeowner should know.
1. Use Correct Wattage Across All Your Appliances
This may seem like one of the more obvious electrical safety tips out there, but there’s a good chance you’ve installed the wrong wattage bulb in a regularly used light fixture. All lamps and lighting fixtures should be clearly labelled with the correct wattage. If you’re dealing with an older, unmarked fixture, opt for nothing brighter than a 60-watt bulb.
Using LED bulbs is good practice in any home. Not only will you be consuming less power, thereby reducing your energy bills, you also slash the risk of your light fixtures overheating. We would highly recommend replacing recessed spotlight bulbs (GU10 halogen bulbs) with LED versions. The halogen bulbs generate a significant amount of heat, in some houses, the insulation in the ceiling was not kept back sufficiently at the time of construction. A combination of the heat generated from the halogen bulb and the proximity of insulation could be a potential fire hazard.
2. Make Sure Outlets and Appliances Are Kept Away from Moisture
Everyone knows that electricity and water don’t go well together, but it can be difficult to protect your appliances from moisture all the time. It’s particularly difficult to keep electrical appliances free from moisture in more humid domestic spaces, such as the kitchen.
To improve electrical safety, make sure you’re keeping an eye on the condition of your appliances in more humid corners of your home. If you notice any moisture has accumulated on the surface of your appliances, dry it away as quickly as possible. Avoid using electrical devices in the bathroom whenever possible and never attempt to reroute an extension cord to your bathrooms, no matter how practical the idea might seem. Bathroom lighting fixtures also need to be enclosed, so ensure any exposed fixtures are replaced at the first opportunity.
3. Never Overload Outlets
You must avoid overloading electrical outlets. However, this is one of the most routinely ignored electrical safety tips. As a general rule, you should minimise your use of extension cords and power adapters. If you must use them, make sure you’re only plugging in one power-intensive device per adapter.
You should never use extension cords or adapters for large devices like washing machines and refrigerators. Always make sure these appliances are plugged directly into a wall outlet to avoid overheating issues and minimise the risk of fire.
4. Be Careful When Placing Extension Cords and Power Cables
Another key electrical safety tip to remember when using extension cords is to be wary of where you’re placing them. Make sure extension cords are placed against skirting boards to prevent tripping hazards. Although they can be unsightly, avoid the temptation to run them underneath rugs and upholstery as this presents a serious fire hazard.
You should also avoid running cords underneath doorways or windows. It’s all too easy for cords to become damaged by friction caused by swinging doors and window frames. If you’re relying heavily on adapters and extension cords in your home, it’s time to speak to an electrician about installing additional power outlets within your property.
5. Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips
If your property includes a considerable amount of outdoor space, you’ll no doubt have a few pieces of electrical equipment like lawnmowers and pressure washers stowed in your shed. You must carry out regular inspections of any outdoor electrical equipment. Ideally, you should be looking out for any damage to cords, wiring, and plugs before every use. These components will wear out over time, especially if you’re using your equipment intensively. However, there’s also the risk of rodents gnawing away at loose wires and moisture exposure to worry about.
For peace of mind, it makes sense to invest in weatherproof equipment storage that will keep exposure to a minimum. Landscape gardeners and handymen should also avoid leaving electrical equipment unattended for long periods. Not only does this present a safety risk to children and pets, but it also increases the chances of your equipment overheating.
6. Carrying Out Roof Repairs
If you’re making plans for extensive property maintenance and roof repairs, there are some specific electrical safety tips to bear in mind. Electricity presents a significant roof safety hazard that should never be overlooked.
If you’re planning on carrying out some maintenance of your roof, check to see if your property lies within proximity to overhanging power lines. Overhead electricity lines aren’t a cause for concern for most residential developments but may present an issue for more rural properties.
7. Avoid Placing Electrical Appliances in Enclosed Spaces
Electrical appliances need sufficient air circulation to operate efficiently. If an electrical appliance is kept in an enclosed space for long enough, there’s a good chance it will overheat. In some cases, an appliance with insufficient air circulation can short out entirely.
If you’re short on space, it can be tempting to conceal electrical appliances in cabinets. While this is usually fine for smaller appliances, it’s never a good idea for larger ones. Electrical safety tips are even stricter for appliances that produce significant amounts of heat. If you’re looking to position something like a tumble dryer, avoid bordering it with other appliances and furniture. It’s also crucial you leave sufficient clearance between the appliance and nearby walls.
8. Be Cautious When Using Fan Heaters
Many of us are growing increasingly wary about fuel costs. If you’re looking to slash your gas bill, electrical fan heaters can be a cost-effective alternative to using your central heating systems daily. Energy-efficient fan heaters can certainly be cost-effective, but you need to be cautious when using them.
Never place an electrical heater near flammable materials. This includes things like carpets and upholstered furniture. It’s also important that each fan heater is allotted its power outlet. Never pair a heater with an extension cord.
9. Keep Exhaust Fans Clean
Larger electrical appliances tend to include exhaust fans. Over time, exhaust fans can become clogged with grime and other debris, rendering your appliances less efficient. If exhaust fans aren’t regularly cleaned, you run the risk of shortening the operations lifespan of your appliances. In extreme cases, you can also encounter overheating issues that may result in a fire.
10. Make Use of Surge Protectors
Many electrical safety tips focus on power outages. However, it’s equally important that you prepare your appliances for potential power surges. In most cases, power surges last for a fraction of a second. However, these short-lived surges can cause significant damage to any appliances that are plugged into a power outlet.
To minimise the risk of surge damage to your appliances, consider unplugging things that don’t need a constant power supply when you’re not using them. This includes things like televisions, lamps, and other everyday appliances. To protect appliances that need to run around the clock, such as refrigerators, think about adding surge protectors to any intensively used power outlets.
Consult the Professionals
With these handy electrical safety tips at your disposal, you should have no trouble tackling potential hazards in the home. However, if you’re still struggling to whip your home into shape, it might be time to consult the services of a qualified electrician. Brosnan Property Solutions offers a range of commercial and domestic electrical services. We’re here to help with everything from lighting and heating emergencies to energy-efficiency solutions. In addition to a first-rate range of electrical services, we can also offer an extensive network of boiler service professionals, experienced plumbers, and handyman tradesmen to help you complete just about any job.
We also have a great blog section on many other topics. Go check them out. We have ones on how to save on energy bills, the cost of getting a house rewired, guides for burst pipe repair and much more.
With more than two decades of experience, we’re the go-to provider for building refurbishment, remedial works, and maintenance solutions in Cork and the surrounding areas. Need help with wiring and electrical services? Drop us a message via the online form or get in touch on 021 4193056 today.