If there is one thing that almost everybody knows about electricity, it’s that it doesn’t mix well with water. Or rather, it mixes a little bit too well. Electrical current can travel quickly through water, creating dangerous shorts that can cause injury, damage your electrical equipment, and so much more. This risk exists any time you use electricity around water, but more and more of our lives are becoming dependent on electrical power, including our lives outdoors. There will inevitably come a time where you will want to use electrical power in an outdoor setting, and in many ways our homes are set up to safely support this type of use.
However, you will still want to make sure you are taking adequate precautions when installing or utilizing electricity in an outdoor setting. Whether it’s stringing up some decorative lights, plugging in some tools, or any other job, make sure you are taking the time to properly waterproof your outdoor electrical system. Here are some tips you can follow for doing so.
Cover Outdoor Outlets & Check Them Regularly
Outdoor outlets need to be covered in order to prevent moisture from condensation and precipitation from finding its way into your electrical leads, causing a dangerous short. Covers come in a wide variety of styles, but we strongly recommend two different types. First, your standard cover features metal covers that are often spring-loaded so they remain closed at all times (whenever something isn’t plugged in, that is. These are ideal for areas that will not normally see moisture, such as outlets on covered patios.
Outlets that might see moisture or which will have a cord that remains plugged in during wet conditions should be protected with a bubble cover. These outlets allow a plug to remain in place and the cord to extend away while still fully-closing and sealing to prevent water intrusion. These are by far the safest types of outlets to use in inclement weather.
Always Use Outdoor-Rated Cords & Devices
Not all electrical cords are created equal. The market has been flooded with seemingly endless numbers of cheap extension cords that seem like a great bargain. However, when it comes to cords, you get what you pay for. These cheaper cords are so affordable because they are constructed using lower-quality materials, and these materials simply are not capable of withstanding the abuse that mother nature throws at them. They can fray, corrode, split, or create serious safety hazards that could cause serious injury or property damage in a short amount of time.
If you are going to be using electrical power outdoors, always use a cord that is listed for outdoor use. These cords will cost more, but they will often be more robust, built using higher-quality materials, be more resistant to punctures or accidental slicing, and provide you with extra protection you need in order to avoid water intrusion. While they might hurt your wallet a little more upfront than these extremely affordable options, you will be thankful for the added safety and waterproofing they provide you.
Properly Cover Any Junction Boxes & Receptacles
Junction boxes and receptacles are the boxes that outlets and other electrical equipment are mounted in. These are extremely common and found virtually anywhere an electrical circuit splits into different branches. They are also frequently found outdoors where the wiring that powers new devices or equipment is permanently installed. However, because they are in an outdoor setting, boxes need to be more robust and capable of withstanding the abuse that they can suffer when exposed to the elements. For this reason, all junction boxes, receptacles, conduit, and more all need to be constructed from metal.
While plastic is just fine for indoor applications, it is not designed or rated for outdoor use. Therefore, make sure that all of your boxes and covers are metal in order to ensure they are durable and long-lasting. In addition to the added safety, you will also appreciate not having to replace these covers and boxes rather regularly when they wear out in an outdoor setting.
Always Use a GFI
Ground fault interrupters are key safety devices that automatically shut off the flow of electrical current to an outlet before it reaches dangerous levels. When a fault appears in an electrical line, the amount of current flowing through an outlet quickly surges, and a GFI can sense this surge and shut off by tripping sort of like a fuse. This can prevent serious injuries or even death as a result of electrocution.
GFIs should be installed on every outlet located somewhere water might be present. That means in your kitchen and bathrooms indoors, and in all outdoor outlets. All outdoor outlets should be GFI-equipped as well as properly covered, as we mentioned earlier.Keep your electrical equipment safe! Call Lightning Bug Electric at (404) 471-3847 today to learn more about proper waterproofing.