Four Common Electrical Mistakes

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Some electrical wiring projects can be easy enough for do-it-yourself savvy homeowners, but there are mistakes that are often made that can be easily corrected. These blunders can be safety hazards, and can ultimately cause electrical fires. Don’t become a statistic by making these common mistakes!


1. The fuse keeps blowing every time you replace it or the breaker continues to trip after you reset it. After a few times, frustration sets in, and you decide to replace the fuse or breaker with a larger size. No, no, no! Never do this! Breakers and fuses are designed to interrupt the current flow in a circuit if the current flow becomes excessive. The reason for the breaker tripping or the fuse blowing should be corrected at once!


2. Everyone that I know (including me) has been guilty of this at one time or another. Most incandescent light bases in your home require that you use 60-watt bulbs. A wattage limit is posted next to the socket for safety purposes. The problem arises when a 100-watt bulb is screwed into the socket. Yes, the bulb fits just fine in the socket and it lights just likes the 60-watt bulb, but brighter. So what’s the problem? This bulb uses more power and gets much hotter than the 60-watt bulb. The socket contacts are not designed for this extra load and as a result, the base will get hotter. This in effect can cause the base to overheat and potentially cause a fire. Always use the recommended wattage bulb in any light fixture.

3. Again, everyone has been guilty of this one. You can buy multi-outlet power strips that seem to provide an outlet for half of the house. The only problem is that the circuit you plug it into can only handle 20 amps. Every appliance in your home needs its own circuit, so spread out the electrical load. Appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, washers, window air conditioners, and garbage disposals all draw a lot of power and need their own supply. For example, if a freezer and a refrigerator are on the same circuit, the load is too great and the breaker can trip. Don’t overload a power strip.


4. Using a drop cord for an electrical load that it isn’t rated for can cause the cord to get smoking hot! This is a great way to start an electrical fire. If you must use a drop cord on a heavy load appliance, use an appliance drop cord that is rated for it. The overloaded drop cord is most popular in the family room where all types of electronics are used: TV, DVD player, sound system, game consoles and other “necessities” of modern life. Drop cords should only be used for short terms, and never overloaded.

Check your home for these common electrical mistakes. The corrections you make could save your family from a fire hazard!

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