Is it Safe to Use a Damaged Power Cord?


It’s the fall or winter and your home’s furnace is broken. So, you head over to the local Walmart and pick up a couple of space heaters. After you’ve been using your new space heater for a month or so, you don’t realize that your dog has been chewing on the cord. Now, it’s 9:00 PM and all you want to do is plug in the space heater, but the chewed cord gets your attention. Can you still plug in the cord and take a risk, or is it not worth it?

As you were vacuuming the living room floor, you vacuumed over the cord for the 100th time. The cord is starting to look a little worn, but you still want to finish the job before company comes over. The wires start to be exposed, but you vacuum anyway. Should you toss your vacuum, or is it still safe to use?

Know Which Power Cords Are Safe

When electrical appliances are moved frequently, their power cords can receive a lot of abuse. We’re referring to vacuum cleaners, space heaters, power tools, hairdryers, curling irons, and other portable appliances. Damaged power cords can be extremely dangerous and pose two main risks: electrical shock and fire.

Damage to power cords can be caused by:

  • Age
  • Heavy use
  • Pinching on the cord
  • The cord being caught between heavy objects
  • The cord being pinched or punctured by heave objects, such as the legs of a desk
  • Too much current flowing through the wires
  • Pulling or yanking the cord out of the outlet instead of pulling on the plug directly

Regardless if a cord is damaged by age, heavy use, pinching, or bearing too much weight (when an appliance is hung by its cord), a damaged cord increases the risk of electrical shock, fire, or electrocution, and should NOT be used.

“The electric cord on your appliance contains a live wire that is securely insulated. But if a cord becomes frayed, the live wire can be exposed. This is dangerous and can leave you vulnerable electric fires,” according to the FDNY Foundation. To read a short but good list of electrical cord safety tips, click here.

Next: 3 Electrical Dangers to Be Aware Of

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