3 Electrical Cord Problems

A damaged electrical cord can be a source of all types of problems with your electrical appliances, devices and equipment. Problems with electrical cords can result in short-circuits that will flip a switch in your main breaker box, cause your electrical devices to not function properly, or may even cause a dangerous electrical fire. However, most electrical cord related problems are avoidable if you know what to look for. Therefore, this article will address common problems with electrical cords, how to avoid the problems, and also how to correct them when they arise.

Broken Ground Prong

3-prong outlet plug

Some homes only come equipped with outlets that have 2-prong receptacles. This presents a problem for owners of electrical devices that use heavy-duty electrical cords that include a third prong for the ground. Although it is not very wise, many people choose to break off the third prong on electrical cords and use them anyway in a 2-prong outlet. While it is true that many appliances, devices and electrical equipment will function without the ground plug, it is also true that they are much more susceptible to surge damage or other problems.

Manufacturers of equipment that use 3-prong electrical cords choose this type of cord for a very good reason: to protect the equipment. For example, if you plug inexpensive computer or audio/visual equipment into a 2-prong outlet, the equipment essentially has no ground protection. So, if the outlet experiences a sudden spike or surge in electricity, there is a good chance that the equipment may be damaged. The same is true with three prong surge protectors. If you break off the round third prong and then plug the surge protector into a 2-prong outlet, you have essentially disabled the surge protector's ability to protect your equipment. The surge protector uses the ground to take a hit or surge in electricity away from your valued equipment.

Cracked or Frayed Electrical Cord

man covered in black soot holding a cord

One of the most common problems with electrical cords and cables is that of cracking or fraying. Over time, when electrical devices are moved around, the electrical cord often gets caught up in between furniture, behind tables or desks or other areas where it is pulled and tugged on, and this can result to cracks in the cord. This will often lead to the equipment not being able to receive power. However, in some cases, a frayed electrical cord can cause an electrical fire. If you do have an electrical device or piece of equipment that has a cracked or frayed electrical cord, you should not attempt to splice the cord back together. Rather, you should remove the damaged cord completely and install a new one at the source inside the piece of equipment.

Cords Underneath Rugs or Carpet

One of the biggest causes of electrical fires is an electrical cord or extension wire that is run underneath a rug or piece of carpet. When you place an electrical cord underneath a rug, it is subject to friction and increased heat when people walk over the cord. Over time, the cord can easily become damaged and arc or spark underneath the very flammable rug material. Instead of placing a an electrical cord underneath a rug, visit your local home improvement store and purchase a piece of floor molding that is specially made to protect electrical cords and extension cords.