Winter is the time of year when everyone has safety as one of their top priorities. With the upcoming snow and ice, even regular everyday tasks take on a certain risk.
While you are shoveling your driveway and salting your sidewalk, remember that your home’s electrical system also needs some special consideration once temperatures start to drop.
Getting Your Home Ready for Winter
There are a few main things to keep in mind as you are preparing your home’s electrical system for winter. You are going to face both cold temperatures and snow, each of which can bring their own unique challenges.
What you might not realize is that you are likely going to be using a lot more power during the winter, which can have a toll on your home’s electrical system.
Even if you do not rely on an electrical heater, gas heaters still depend on electricity for their blower and control systems.
You are also more likely to see everyone indoors at the same time, using lights, appliances, and devices for entertainment. This can create an additional load on your electrical panel and wiring.
If you have finally reached a point where circuit breakers are regularly tripping, you might need an upgrade. Safe and Sound Electric provides professional upgrades that can keep your lights on and your home safe.
Ensuring that you have the capacity and safety you need from your electrical panel is probably the single largest concern going into winter. Still, there are other electrical safety tips to keep in mind. The holiday season is no time for an unfortunate accident, so take these electrical tips into careful consideration.
Handling Christmas Lights
Some of the most essential electrical safety tips for Christmas involve your outdoor lights. While climbing up a ladder or onto an icy roof carries more than enough danger in itself, there are electrical concerns to take into account, as well.
The first thing to consider is your extension cord. Can you use an indoor extension cord outside for Christmas lights? The answer is, quite simply, “No.” Do not use indoor extension cords. They are at risk of damage from water, snow, and ice.
Indoor extension cords have relatively thin sheathing. While it holds up fine indoors, indoor cords will break down, crack, and split when used outdoors. This means you could get a nasty shock while handling them. They could short and trip your circuit breakers or even start a fire.
Instead, always use a specialized outdoor extension cord in winter. You will notice right away how much thicker and more robust the cord is. Make sure to get the kind with a three-pronged plug, as well!
If you are worried about the best ways to hide outdoor extension cords, you really should no be! The best time to see Christmas lights is after dark when you probably will not be able to spot the cords anyway. Just make sure they are not crossing any walkways and your lights will look great without posing a safety hazard.
Running so many lights outside might have you worried about surge protection. Can surge protectors be used outside? Plugging in the same kind of power bar surge protector you might use for a computer or television isn’t the best solution when you are wondering how to protect outdoor electrical connections.
Fortunately, many different types of outdoor surge protectors are available. Some are even designed specifically for Christmas lights. However, you do not need a special outdoor surge protector for Christmas lights; any kind that is appropriately rated for outdoor use will be just fine.
5 Electrical Safety Rules for Winter
While Christmas lights make up a good portion of electrical issues people have during the winter season, there are plenty of other things to look into as well. By following these five extra electrical safety rules, you’ll be keeping your home as safe as possible this winter!
1. Always Be Careful with Space Heaters
Space heaters really are not a great idea overall, but plenty of people still use them. The most important thing is that you do not plug them into extension cords or power bars.
Space heaters draw too much power for these electrical solutions to handle. If you choose to use them anyway, you could end up with a melted power bar or an electrical fire.
You should also keep your space heater at least four feet away from furniture and fabrics, including your curtains. As you might assume, a good space heater is going to generate heat, so there is always a potential risk of a fire if you put it too close to certain materials.
2. Do not Plug Too Many Devices into a Single Outlet
Winter is the time of year when you are likely to have the most things plugged in and running. This is doubly true right around the holidays when you will have lights and decorations and your new electronic gifts to try out! But it is important to make sure you are not overloading your outlets.
Overloads can happen when you plug in a power strip or multiple power strips and fill up all their slots. At best, you will trip your circuit breaker and learn your lesson. At worst, you could cause damage to your electrical system. You should not count on these electrical safety systems alone to prevent disaster when a little common sense can do the trick.
3. Avoid Excessive Daisy Chaining
Daisy chaining happens when you plug one set of Christmas lights into another, essentially turning them into one long string. The outlet attached at the end clearly shows that this is how the lights are meant to work, but stringing too many at once can be dangerous.
You should not use more than three strings of lights in a row, no matter how tempting it can be to add more. The power for every string passes through the first one, which can lead to it quickly heating up. You could find yourself with a fire or, at the very least, a tripped circuit breaker.
4. Consider an Electrical Inspection
Ideally, you should have an inspection of your home’s electrical system from time to time. Right before winter is a great time to do so, especially when you want to make sure that your system is up to the increased demands you are going to bring over the next few months.
An electrical inspection can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Going without power in the middle of winter is not an ideal situation to find yourself in. Checking out your electrical panel and other components ahead of time is the best way to go.
5. Check Your Outlets and Fixtures
If you want to take a look into your home’s electrical system for yourself, there are a few things you can safely check. Take a look at your lighting fixtures to see if they are flickering or making odd noises. You can also check outlets for any signs of scorch marks—a sure sign that you need some type of electrical repair.
You should also run your heating system briefly before you actually need it. You do not want to find an electrical problem only after it gets colder.
Professional Electrical Services in Riverside, CT
While you can use these electrical safety tips at home, there may come a time when you need the help of a professional electrician.
Safe and Sound Electric provides electrical installations, repairs, and maintenance for lower Fairfield County, including the Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford, and Darien, CT, areas. Reach out to our team today for a fast repair or to get a quote on your next electrical installation or upgrade.