Outdoor electrical outlets offer you a quick and convenient way to light
your yard, use power tools, and do all kinds of other things without having
to run an extension cord to an indoor outlet. However, they are live sources
of electricity, and water, moisture, dirt, and other hazards are all serious
issues they will have to deal with. This means you’ll have to take
a few extra precautions to protect them and ensure they remain safe to
use in all circumstances; let’s take a look at how.
Select the Right Type of Outlet
Even a single drop of water getting into an outlet can cause a dangerous
short, resulting in sparks, blown fuses, and even major fires. Outdoor
outlets that are exposed to rain, mist, dew, and other forms of moisture
are the most prone to these issues. Fortunately, electrical technology
has advanced to the point where today we have outlets that are designed
to protect themselves from shorts and shut themselves off if the current
flow gets too high, known as ground fault circuit interrupter outlets.
Today, GFCI outlets are
required by the National Electrical Code for all outdoor outlets. They’re
pretty easy to spot: they have two buttons reading “test”
and “reset” right on the faceplate. If you have an outdoor
outlet that is
not one of these self-stopping models, it’s strongly advised you have
it replaced immediately. Likewise, make sure it’s rated for outdoor
use; you can tell by looking for the letters “WR” embossed
on the outlet, indicating it is “weather resistant.” These
are the only types of outlets that are rated as safe for outdoor use.
Make Sure Your Outlet is Properly Installed
Having the right equipment is one thing, but if it’s not properly
installed, it won’t be able to do its job. This is particularly
true for an outlet that’s rated as safe for outdoor use; they’re
only safe so long as they’re properly set up. Every outdoor outlet
should also be installed with a weatherproofing gasket and a cover plate
or weatherproofed cover to seal it when not in use.
Additionally, always use the proper external mounting brackets, otherwise
moisture could get into the box hiding the high-voltage wires. You also
want to make sure your outlets are adequately grounded, which can provide
protection against shock or sudden shorts. This will not only preserve
the life of your tools, lights, and other equipment you plug into this
outlet, but make sure the outlet itself is protected from melting and
your breakers won’t trip from a sudden surge. You can test to make
sure your outlet is functioning properly using a three-bulb receptacle
tester, but if you’re not sure what you’re doing, never toy
with your electrical components yourself.
Cover Up the Outlet
Do you have little flip-tabs over your outlets to protect them from the
weather? That’s fine, provided you aren’t trying to use your
outlet while it’s raining. The moment moisture starts falling, however,
you had better unplug whatever’s plugged in and close the tab. That
is, unless you get the right type of cover. For just a few dollars you
can purchase what is known as a “flip up” or “bubble”
cover, which is designed to provide full protection from rain, even during
use. Make sure you purchase a cover that’s built for the same configuration
as your outlet to ensure proper protection and a perfect fit.
Check Existing Outlets
Does your home already have existing outlets? Don’t assume they’re
okay just because “they’ve always been there.” Electrical
code is constantly changing, and those with older homes in particular
may not have had the option of installing GFCI outlets. Additionally,
people sometimes choose to add an outlet on their own, and they often
don’t use a weather-resistant model or even install the proper grounds,
making them extremely risky. Check each outdoor outlet around your home
and call a Marietta electrician as soon as possible to schedule an outlet
replacement if you find one that could be putting you in jeopardy of a
serious electrical fire.
Need an electrician in the Marietta area? Trust the experienced experts
at Lightning Bug Electric to provide you with fast, friendly, and affordable
service while getting the job done right.
Call us today at (404) 471-3847 to schedule an appointment or receive an estimate!