How-To Do-It-Yourself: ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING
Extension Cord Safety Tips for the Homeowner
By Frank Suster
Many homeowners use additional extension cords around the home for garden care, holiday decorations and other special projects.
In general an extension cord provides a path for electrical current to travel from a fixed outlet to an appliance. The type of cord needed for a given job is determined by the amperage drawn by the appliance, whether the appliance is grounded and if it is for interior or exterior use.
The wire in an extension cord is rated by its resistance to the flow of electricity passing through it. Copper is the most common conductor in extension cords because it has minimum resistance at reasonable cost.
The diameter of wire in the cord is directly proportional to the amount of current it will carry. Larger wires carry more current. If too much current is forced through the wire it will over heat and blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker.
Home extension cords are usually rated from 18-gauge to 12-gauge with 18 being the smallest diameter. 18 gauge is OK for lamps, but should never be used with power tools where a greater amp rating is required.
Heavy- Duty “SGT” round cord is better able to withstand the constant flexing of use with portable power tools. Any UL listed cord will carry a UL label near the cap. It is important to check for this label. To use UL listed for outdoor use, three wire round cords must have connectors and cap molded to the cord and a lip on the end of the connector to prevent misuse.
The most common size outdoor extension cords are 16-3, 14-3 and 12-3. For light uses on small power tools the 16-3 is fine but for higher ampere tools such as a table saw, 12-3 is recommended.
• Only use UL listed outdoor extension in wet areas.
• Flexible cords must be in a continuous length when used. Never put two short cords together to obtain needed length.
• Never yank at a cord to remove it from an electrical outlet.
• Always check your cord to make sure it is not frayed or have a torn jacket where wires are exposed.
For City Mill, this is Frank Suster saying, “You Can Do-It-Yourself.”