Tips for taking care of small appliance cords

July 28, 2015

The cords on your small appliances are vital to their functioning. Take care of them, and you're taking better overall care of your toasters, heaters, hair dryers and so on.

Tips for taking care of small appliance cords

Keep cords loose

  • When electricity travels through a wire, it creates heat. The cords on your appliances need to be kept loose while in use to let the heat dissipate.
  • This is especially important for appliances that heat up and draw a lot of amps, such as toasters, space heaters and hair dryers.
  • If you tightly coil or wrap an appliance cord, the heat may build up while the appliance is in use, potentially melting the cord's insulation.
  • This may even cause a fire. Also, tightly wrapping an electrical cord could cause an internal break in the wire.

Check a detachable cord

  • If your appliance has a detachable cord and works intermittently, the plug that goes into the appliance might also be faulty.
  • Check to see if the plug has screws that can be removed to open up the plug. If it does, open it up and see if tightening the connections inside helps.
  • If this plug is faulty, you'll need to order a replacement cord from the manufacturer.
  • As a general rule, even though a cord is detachable, it is best not to detach it.
  • Plugging it in and pulling it out a lot wears out the plug and the socket.

Using extension cords

When it comes to appliances, its best not to use extension cords at all. It's just one more connection that can come loose and cause power surges that can damage your appliance. But if you must use an extension cord, make sure that it is heavy-duty enough for the job.

If you try to suck more than the recommended amount of juice through a cord, you'll strain the motor on the appliance and create a fire hazard because the cord can get hot enough to melt its insulation.

Here's what you need to know.The higher the cord's gauge number, the fewer amperes it can handle. Most appliances are labeled with how many amps they draw. Be sure to use a cord that can handle more than the amount listed.

• A lightweight 16-gauge lamp extension cord can handle no more than 10 amps.

• A medium 14-gauge extension cord can handle up to 15 amps.

• A heavy-duty 12-gauge cord can handle up to 20 amps.The same rule applies if you replace an appliance's power cord, but keep in mind that heat-producing appliances, such as irons, toasters, hair dryers and space heaters, require cords with special heat-resistant insulation. Never use extension cords with these appliances.

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