Overloading electrical outlets

One of the most common mistakes an electrician sees people make is overloading outlets. People are unaware of how much stress they are putting on outlets as they plug in the latest appliances and electronics. If an outlet does overload, it can cause a fire.

The holidays are a time when many electricians see people put too much stress on outlets. The majority of electrical fires happen over the holiday season. People are not aware of how much power they need to make holiday decorations work and still use all the appliances and electronics in their homes.

A typical circuit in a home today will have 6-8 outlets on a 15 amp or 20 amp circuit. You can see by this how easy it is to overload a circuit if you are plugging in appliances or high wattage equipment. People who create entertainment rooms need to understand how much power each electronic device draws from the circuit and whether the current wiring can handle all the new electrical demands. An electrician may need to rewire the room or add additional circuits to accommodate the higher electrical usage.

If you have or buy a big appliance, such a refrigerator, dishwasher or microwave, do not make the mistake of using the same outlet or circuit for two big appliances. Many outlets are not wired to take the electrical needs of two big appliances at once.

Outlet extenders sold by stores give people a false sense of security. People tend to plug as many things as possible into the extenders. They plug in many devices without thinking about how much stress it is putting on the actual outlet. Too many cords plugged in at one time is not safe. Extenders do not increase how much power outlets have available.

To further prevent your outlets from overloading, you need to know how much power you have available and how much power each outlet has. The packaging on all lights, appliances and electronics will tell you how much power they use. Knowing how much power you have and what each item uses will keep you mindful of your energy use. Start regularly checking outlets and electrical cords. Outlets do eventually need replacing. If you need help looking at your outlets, circuits and electrical wiring, then make sure to hire an electrician to help you.

Preventing outlets from overloading is an easy step to keep you and your home safe all year round. Just keep safety in mind before plugging in another electrical cord into an outlet.