Extension cords are an essential tool for homes and workspaces. They enable the use of devices anywhere without having to stress about the availability of outlets.
Although extension cords are a pervasive device, they are often used or stored improperly. It elevates the risk of hazards and also damages the wires severely. Properly using and keeping the cords can easily save you lots of time and money and help you get the job well done. Here are seven tips and tricks to use while working with extension cords.
1. Choose Them Carefully
A common mistake while choosing an extension cord is to buy without checking the specifications. It is essential to assess an extension cord’s ratings and several safety aspects before buying for increased safety.
Inspect the letters on the label that indicate the application of the cord.
W- Outdoor use
S- Flexible for general use
J – Carries standard 300 voltage insulations. (In the absence of the letter ‘J’, the cord is designed with 600-volt insulation)
Next, inspect the markings on the label that indicate the gauge and conduction. If the label states 16/3, then you have a 16 gauge cord with 3 conductions inside it.
Also, you must check the max amperage before buying a cord. For example, a 220 extension cord is a high amperage range for power tools and devices. Always choose cords capable of handling higher power than your tools for the best performance.
2. Knot Them Together
While connecting two extension cords, tie a knot using the wires before plugging them in. The knot will help keep the wires connected even when you tug from one end. This way, you can finish your work without having to worry about unplugging the two wires when you accidentally pull a little hard.
This genius knotting trick also comes in handy while working with long and heavy wires for a long time, especially if you are on a ladder. Create a simple knot and use this to support the weight of the rest of the wire by balancing it on a scaffolding peg or nail.
3. Lay Them Out Properly
Extension cord wires lying around everywhere are a tripping hazard. It can cause severe accidents in workplaces and is also a safety hazard. Therefore make sure you place them optimally such that they do not interfere too much with your movement.
If you are working indoors, use the furniture, baseboards, or fixtures on the wall to place the wires closer to the edges. It keeps the wires away from walking space. For outdoor workspaces, tuck the wires along the sides of the building hugging the walls. This way, you can avoid accidents such as tripping or vehicles rolling over the wire that could cause severe damage.
Be careful not to place cords close to flammable substances, radiators, or below rugs. Extension cords produce a lot of heat, especially when they are of higher amperage or have been in use continuously for a long duration. It could increase the risk of a fire hazard. So take necessary precautions to tuck them away safely.
4. Protect Them
Sharp edges and metal tracks along work areas are not just a safety hazard for you. They also increase the chances of damaging extension cords that run over them, ending up electrifying the frame and everything connected to it.
Use a small piece of metal to create a flat surface for the wires to pass over these sharp edges. If you happen to find any cracks, cuts, or damage to the cord’s insulation, fix it immediately before laying it out. If the insulation is scarred on a large portion of the cord, consider replacing the entire cord.
5. Store Short Cords In Your Tool Box
Although short extension cords may not be a convenient choice to reach the nearest outlets, carrying one along with your frequently used tools can come in handy in some cases. You can use it to connect to another extension cord or a power outlet any place you go.
Also, compared to large extension cords, these are petite and easy to carry around. You can simply place them in the main toolbox that you take for small jobs instead of having to drag along the entire bag with heavy wires. Preferably, look for 14-gauge cords with provisions for a few different spots to help you work efficiently with multiple tools.
6. Paper Towel Tools Can Come in Handy
One of the most common problems with extension cords is tangled wires. Spending time untangling the knots each time you have to use them can be frustrating and time-consuming. Tangled cables are also prone to damage. Storing the cords right can help you save them from being trapped.
A simple storage technique to keep your cords well packed and easy to carry is to use empty paper towel rolls. Fold or roll the wire properly and shove it from one end of the empty roll. You can place this inside your toolbox or store it in your cupboard easily.
7. Try Bucketing The Cord
Managing the extension cords properly in the work environment reduces the chances of accidents and damage to the wires. A simple way to do this, especially while working with very long cords, is to use the bucket technique.
Grab a 5-gallon bucket and make two holes on the sides, much closer to the bottom. Place a long heavy-duty cord roughly coiled inside the bucket such that the male pin sticks out just enough to connect to an outlet. Pick the female end of the cord and start walking to your workstation. Voila! You get a mess-free work environment without tangled wires running everywhere that could damage the cord.
These are some exciting tips and tricks to use and maintain your extension cords. They can ensure the safe and effective use of these cords anytime, anywhere. Make sure to buy certified extension cords to improve safety.
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