Prevent Overloading Your Electrics
Overloading Electrical Sockets is dangerous – It’s all too easy to overload electrical sockets; you may plug extension cables into extension cables without a passing thought, never considering that you may be overloading your home supply sockets until you notice a slight burning smell, or your fuse box keeps tripping, or worse still until you’re dealing with an electrical home emergency, or even a house fire.
If an extension plug has space for four sockets it doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use all four sockets, and certainly doesn’t mean it is safe to connect another extension socket into it. Reduce your likelihood of requiring emergency electrical repairs or experiencing a catastrophic fire, by considering the following tips when using extension leads or multiple sockets:
Know the early warning signs of an electrical fault
A burning smell, perhaps one that reminds you of burning tyres, plastic or metal, indicates that a fuse or plug is heating up beyond safe levels. Any sootiness, dark patches or blackened marks around plug sockets, appliances and cables, or any evidence of melting or sparks, also reveals that an electrical item is creating a fire hazard. If you notice sparks when you remove or insert a plug, or if you suffer a mild electric shock, then there may be a problem with your appliances or your electrical wiring.
Don’t use damaged items
Do not use any plugs or appliances that show signs of fraying or damage, or any with exposed wire, until you have repaired or replaced them.
Understand the ratings of appliance leads
You can see the rating of your extension leads on their back or bottom. Most extension leads sold in the UK have a rating of 13A, but some are rated at 10A. Do not plug in any items if they exceed the rating of the lead – for instance, if you have a 10A-rated extension lead, do not plug in 4 x 3A items.
Never connect two extension leads together
Can you plug an extension lead into an extension lead is an all too common question but combining extension leads puts additional stress on the sockets and fuses – causing them to overheat and catch fire should their safety fuses fail.
Be wary of block adapters
Bar extension leads – the rectangular blocks that usually contain four plug sockets, and are plugged into the wall with a lead – are almost always fused, and therefore should break before they catch alight. Conversely, block adapters – cuboid plugs that typically have two or three plug sockets, and are plugged directly into the wall – are less likely to contain fuses, and therefore are far more likely to become overloaded and catch alight, avoid these and upgrade at all costs.
Try to avoid using extension leads
Is it really necessary to use the extension lead? Overloading sockets or extension sockets is dangerous. Could you perhaps have another plug socket installed behind the television, or could you rearrange your room so that the computer is not plugged into the same wall socket as the television, DVD player and digital TV box? If you can get away without using extension leads, then do so! Not only will your home be safer, but it will look tidier. If you decide to have another plug socket fitted, ensure that you use a Part P-approved electrician.
Use an overload calculator
This overload calculator allows you to determine whether or not you are exceeding the recommended load of an extension socket.
Check your Appliance Sockets for Safety
Most UK sellers of appliances and extension cables now come with a British Standards marking of safety certification, look for the BSI Kitemark for extra reassurance.
If you are still having issues then seek Professional advice and a qualified electrician in your local area.