Most homeowners do not have separate electrical outlets for every electrical appliance. If you too have a handful of outlets, you might have to plug two devices into the same one at the same time. Sometimes, you find all outlets are occupied.
In such cases, using an extension cord is the alternative solution. Though a lot of homeowners use an extension cord to power electrical appliances, they hardly know how dangerous it’s if the cord is not equipped for that purpose.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in fact has warned people about the accidents that can occur by using an ordinary extension cord that can’t handle heavy flow of electric current. More than 4600 residential fires are caused by poor extension cords. These accidents kill about 70 people and injure 230 roughly. These figures are enough to capture our attention and make us understand the need to pick the right extension cord while plugging in electrical appliances.
Are you finding it hard to use your clothes iron because you do not have an outlet nearby or the outlets are already powering multiple appliances? You must have thought of using an extension cord for the time being. If that’s so, you have come to the right place.
In this guide, we have discussed whether or not using an extension cord is safe. We have already listed a number of safety tips that homeowners must remember and follow when you plug an iron into an extension cord. Continue to read below and know more.
Can You Plug An Iron Into An Extension Cord?
Yes, homeowners can plug iron into an extension cord. However, doing so is extremely risky and dangerous. Therefore it’s important to follow all safety standards to ensure the safety of the person and the appliance.
While using an iron, one mustn’t use any ordinary extension cord since that cord would fail to handle the high flow of current that an iron needs. One must plug an iron into a heavy duty extension cord only.
These extension cords are specially designed to supply high amounts of electricity to heavy-duty appliances like iron. Any random extension cord would certainly fail at this job, causing dangerous mishaps that can put the entire house at risk.
We have discussed some of the dangerous consequences of plugging an iron into an ordinary extension cord. To know more continue reading below.
What Happens If You Plug Iron Into An Extension Cord?
If you plug an iron directly into the wall outlet using the factory cord, it’s entirely safe. That’s so because the manufacturer of the product has carefully sized the cord as per the electrical current demanded by the iron or the load that the appliance requires.
Now, if you use an undersized cord instead of the appropriate one, it’s sure to cause a mishap. Using an undersized cord might exceed the safe load capacity that the cord is designed to handle. If that happens, the results can be dangerous.
Ordinary extension cords usually tend to get overloaded as they fail to handle the high amount of current flowing through them. If the cord continues to be overheated, its insulation is likely to melt. Not just that, objects like carpets, papers, etc. lying in close vicinity to that overheated cord can catch fire.
If this situation isn’t handled immediately, the fire starts to spread and can burn down an entire house. Therefore, the most dangerous risk of using the wrong extension cord is a fire hazard.
Ordinary extension cords are usually lengthier. The more the length of the cables, the higher is the resistance. This is bad when it comes to powering any electrical appliance. A high resistance generates more heat which ordinary cables aren’t designed to handle. As a result, these cords tend to get overloaded and melt in the process. Sometimes, this also causes a fire to break out.
Additional care needs to be taken if you are plugging your iron into an extension cord. Make sure nobody trips over the cable and falls down and gets hurt. Using extension cord for clothes iron increases the chances of accidents inside the house. Especially if you have kids or pets at home, you mustn’t think of using extension cords to power your iron.
Is It Safe To Plug Iron Into An Extension Cord?
Yes, it’s safe to plug an iron into an extension cord only if it’s a heavy duty extension cord. Heavy duty extension cords are specially designed to draw 10 to 15 amps of power and are best suited for heating appliances. These cords are safe to be used for powering an iron because they are grounded unlike the ordinary ones. Heavy duty extension cords come with three wires and have plugs for three slots to be fitted into a three prong outlet.
To ensure safety while using an extension cord for your iron, make sure to check the gauge rating of the cord. Cords with lesser gauges are thicker in comparison to higher gauge cables. The lower gauge cables have more power than higher gauge ones and therefore they conduct more current. That’s why choose an extension cord that has 12 to 14 gauges. This ensures both the product’s safety and the safety of the people around. Also, check whether the wattage rating of that extension cord is equivalent to that of the iron.
When it comes to everyone’s safety while using an iron with an extension cord, one must ensure that the extension cord is not damaged, scratched or cut at any point. Inspect the cord regularly before using it. If these issues are neglected, chances of fatal accidents increase. Homeowners should look for signs indicating internal damages in the cord. If the cord is quite old, replace it, even if it appears to be alright. An extra step of precaution is never harmful. Also, while plugging the cord into an outlet, make sure to firmly insert it.
Don’t forget to keep the extension cord away from where people are. People can fall over and get hurt. Not just that, if an individual accidentally touches the cord, and it’s damaged or cut in case, that person might receive severe shocks.
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Safety Tips: Things To Know Before Plugging An Iron Into An Extension Cord
One must never use light duty extension cords with heat generating devices like space heaters, clothes irons, toasters, etc. These electrical appliances draw heavy electrical loads, something that these light duty extension cords aren’t equipped to handle.
Sometimes, these cords aren’t even grounded. They have two plug prongs and do not come with the third or the grounding wire. Therefore they mustn’t be used with appliances that have a three prong grounded cord.
Just like this, there are several other safety measures that homeowners must take if they are using an iron extension cord. We have enlisted some of the important safety tips below. Continue reading below to know more.
Buy a cord with the right gauge
We have already mentioned how lower gauge extension cords are comparatively more efficient at handling the power load that an iron requires. Therefore, it’s best to choose a cord with a gauge ranging from 12 to 14 AWG. Also, the lesser the gauge thicker is the wire and therefore more transmission of current through the extension cord.
Check the amperage rating
Your cord comes with an amperage rating that’s usually written on its body. Make sure to check that and compare it with the amperage rating of the iron.
Choose a cord with the appropriate length
Just like the gauge or the thickness, the length of the cord is equally important in ensuring safety of the appliance and the people around. A longer cord offers more resistance than a shorter one.
When using an extension cord to power any kind of appliance, you need the least resistance because the more the resistance, the more heat would be produced. Excessive heat will cause overheating of the cord. It might melt the insulation or cause a fire breakout. Therefore, always go for a heavy duty extension cord having a shorter length.
Use a single extension cord.
Do not ever think of using two extension cords to reach the wall outlet. It’s forbidden by the electrical code and the fire code. It’s extremely fatal. Instead of using two extension cords, homeowners can consider buying a lengthier cord or install a new wall outlet at a suitable point.
Check if the extension cord is grounded
Before picking up a suitable extension cord for your iron, check if the cord is grounded. You mustn’t pick up a cord with two prongs and plug it into a three prong outlet. The ground pin must be present since it’s the one that ensures everyone’s safety.
Don’t secure the cord
In case, you have to press your clothes in one room and the wall outlet is in another room, you mustn’t think of running the cord across the floor and covering it with a carpet. If the cord is damaged and you didn’t notice, the carpet can catch fire. It can hurt anyone in close vicinity. In serious cases, this fire can spread rapidly, causing a bigger accident.
Homeowners should note this matter with caution. They must remember that using an extension cord to power an iron must only be a temporary solution. They must make the necessary arrangements to install a wall outlet as soon as possible.
Create a dedicated circuit
Homeowners must install separate wall outlets so that they do not have to plug multiple appliances into the same circuit. To use an iron, homeowners must create a dedicated circuit that they would use when powering the iron.
If you use the same circuit to power multiple appliances, chances of overloading increases. Therefore to prevent that from happening, the electrical code advises all to establish a connection to a dedicated circuit consisting of a 20 amp circuit breaker. Even if the cord is overloaded, the circuit breaker would melt, thereby breaking the connection and preventing a major accident.
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The Bottom Line
From this guide you must have understood that using an ordinary extension cord to power electrical appliances like iron is unsafe and dangerous. We have talked about how fatal it can be at times. Not just that we have also discussed how to safely use an extension cord to power electrical appliances.
Being a conscious homemaker, it’s your responsibility to abide by the safety measures and follow the electrical code to ensure everyone’s safety in your house. So, the next time you think of using an extension cord to power your iron, make sure you are using a heavy duty, grounded extension cord of the right gauge and length.