Home appliances make life more comfortable, but if they are operated unsafely, they can also put you at significant risk. It is vital that you not only protect your appliances, but ensure that you and your family are safe with these tips.
Use GFCI Outlets
Any appliances that are installed in a damp location should be plugged into a GFCI outlet. Bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms, kitchens and any outdoor areas can be susceptible to damp or even dripping water, and as any elementary school child knows, water and electricity don’t mix. You can minimize the risks by using a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter for any power cords in a potentially damp location. These outlets prevent electrocution and the risk of fire by tripping the electrical circuit if a power flow imbalance is detected.
If you don’t have GFCI outlets already installed around your home, you should prioritize this as your next upgrade. For additional safety, ensure that you follow any manufacturer warnings about which appliances are unsuitable for outdoor use.
Keep Your Outlets, Cords and Electronic Items Away From Water
While some appliances such as charcoal or gas grills are designed specifically for outdoor use, many others need additional care and attention. If you are using a dishwasher, ice maker, refrigerator, power tool or any other devices outdoors, you need to make sure that you keep all your cords and outlets totally dry. Remember that you can use weatherproof electronics to help with this or you can use GFCI outlets fitted with watertight gaskets.
Remember Extension Cords Are a Temporary Solution Only
There are several risks associated with extension cords, so they should only be used as a temporary solution. Extension cords increase the possibility of power fluctuations that could damage your appliance, increase the chance of water penetration and have a potential for a loose connection that could create a spark and cause a fire. Additionally, there is an increased likelihood of overheating wires, creating a potential fire hazard, particularly if a high power appliance is plugged into it.
If you are choosing an extension cord, ensure it is the appropriate gauge. Lower gauges have larger wires, so it needs to be appropriate for your appliance. For example, a 16 gauge wire household extension cord may be suitable for a lamp, but you’ll need a 12 gauge model for a window air conditioner.
You should also try to minimize the cord length Longer cords can experience voltage drop, so try to opt for shorter extension cords, particularly for power tools.
Always Read Your Appliance Manual
While you may assume that you don’t need to read the manual for your new washing machine or dishwasher, it contains important information you should know. Your manual will detail whether the wiring in your home can support the appliance, explain whether it can be used outdoors and specify advanced features you may not be familiar with.
Even if you’ve read the manual, remember to keep it handy just in case you have any issues that need troubleshooting.
Unplug Your Small Appliances After Use
Although keeping your small appliances plugged in may not be a safety issue, it can lead to unnecessary energy consumption. Many small devices include features such as clocks or LED indicators that can still consume energy when in standby mode. Try to unplug your printer, games console, modem, phone chargers, and TVs when they are not in use to save energy.
There is a variety of safety issues that can develop without proper care and attention, so it is essential to educate yourself for optimum safety and enjoyment. For practical help or guidance, you can rely on a professional home appliance technician.
For help with all your appliance safety issues, be sure to speak to a professional appliance repair service.