Three Signs A Power Cord Isn't Safe

If your power cords are unsafe, it may be time to replace them. Going through your house periodically, perhaps at spring cleaning time, to analyze whether or not your electrical cords are safe to use is always a good idea. And you should always stop using any device with an obviously unsafe cord until you can have the cord replaced. Here are three signs of unsafe power cords.

1. No grounding prong

The grounding prong is an essential part of electrical safety. Whether you're using an ancient appliance that's managed to survive from the no-prongs era or whether you're using a piece of equipment that's been mutilated by having the grounding prong removed, you should stop using it until you can get this fixed. This particular problem can be fixed either by having the entire cord replaced or by simply having the plug itself replaced with a safe one. And remember, if you're living in a home where the wall outlets don't have grounding plugs, you really need to get your wall outlets updated. 

2. Amateur repairs

If the cord has been damaged in the past, whether by being slammed in a window or door or by a teething pet, it's possible someone may have tried to patch it up with electrical tape. If the person who did this wasn't well-versed in electrical systems, though, this could do more harm than good; wrapping exposed wires back up with electrical tape could cause wires to touch that shouldn't be touching, which can cause short circuits and fires.

3. Fraying, chewing, or other obvious damage

Sometimes electrical cords will start to fray if they've seen a long, hard life. Other times it's just because they were badly abused. Some easy ways to kill a cord quickly include:

  • Allowing a pet to chew on it (this can also be an easy way to kill a pet quickly)
  • Running it through a window or a door that can be closed on the cord, squishing it
  • Running it under a carpet where it can be frequently trampled by feet and furniture
  • Plugging it into a wall behind a piece of furniture, then shoving the furniture as close to the wall as possible

Look out for obvious signs of wear and damage such as exposed wires, tooth marks in the plastic, or creases and crinkles in the plastic right next to the plug itself. If you find these signs, don't use the power cord; it may still operate your device, but it may also malfunction and electrocute you, so it's not worth the risk.