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Home Care Library

Tips for Electric Outlets & Surge Protectors

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 81,000 electrical system fires in homes every year. This article and video gives you 20 tips about electrical outlets and surge protectors, which will help you to protect your family and appliances, and to help you avoid creating fire hazards in your home.

So let's go through these 20 tips now:


 GFI outlets prevent electrocutions by immediately shutting off when they sense a short circuit.

 Your electrical outlets should be upgraded to GFI-type outlets in any areas of your home where there is the possibility of water being present on floors or counters (bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, basement, etc.).


 GFI outlets wear out over time.

 Routinely test your GFI outlets by plugging in a small appliance into it and then pushing the “test” button on the outlet. If the device does not turn off, then the GFI outlet should not be used until it is replaced.


 If you have a GFI that frequently trips off,

 the problem could be either with the appliance that you are plugging into the outlet, or the problem could be with the GFI itself (helpful accessory: GFI testers).

Do not use this appliance until you have resolved the problem.


 Do not overload an electrical outlet with too many items plugged into it.

 Overloading can damage the electrical system in your house or cause a fire (helpful accessory: electricity overload protector).


 If any of your switches, outlets or receptacles don’t work, have a qualified electrician

 determine the problem and

 fix it

 to avoid fires inside the walls of your home.


 If you have installed a dimmer switch, it is not unusual for the faceplate to feel slightly warm

 when it is turned on.


 If you plug into any of your electrical outlets, and the plug wobbles a bit,

 this looseness is an indication of a worn out receptacle. Worn receptacles should be replaced as they cause overheating and fires.


 Make sure there are safety covers (or lockout receptacles) on all unused electrical outlets

 that are accessible to children (see types, costs, and reviews of electrical outlet safety covers).


 Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit.


 Replace any electrical outlet that shows any problems,

 such as being broken, no longer holding a plug securely, feeling hot to the touch, or sparks or makes noise when inserting or removing a plug.


 Replace broken or missing faceplates,

 so that plugs or fingers don’t accidentally touch any live portions of the outlet.


 Teach your children about electrical safety,

 and make sure they know to never to poke their fingers or any objects into electrical outlets or appliances like toasters, etc.


 Consider installing a Whole-House Surge Protector,

 to protect your entire home from very large power spikes (see types, costs, and reviews of surge protectors).


  For protecting entertainment and computer-related appliances, be sure to

 use a type of surge protector that is capable of protecting ALL lines that are connected to the protected equipment

 (in other words, electrical power, phone lines, coaxial cable from satellite, cable TV, and external antennas).


 Regularly inspect your power strips for damage or signs of overloading.


 Some power strips may look like they are also surge protectors, but are not.

 Don't assume that it has a surge protector built in unless it specifically says that it includes a surge protector.


 Use a surge protector with all delicate, expensive equipment in your home,

 such as computers, printers, routers, televisions, etc.


 You can have special electrical outlets installed that offer surge protection.

 Surge protection built directly into wall outlets are useful in locations where there isn't room for a plug-in surge protector, such as near a countertop microwave oven.


 Never throw water on an electrical fire.

 Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher instead, whose rating includes chemical fires (see types, costs, and reviews of fire extinguishers). Water conducts electricity, so throwing water on an electrical fire could cause it to get larger.


  Studies of electrical fires show that

 many electrical fires are caused by improper installation of electrical devices by do-it-yourselfers


 If you are not completely sure how to do a task, then hire a professional.



We hope these 20 tips have helped you to understand electrical outlets and surge protectors, and that they will help you to protect your family and appliances, and will help you to avoid creating fire hazards in your home.

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