Winter can be tough on your home’s electrical system when you live in a region like Minnesota that experiences extreme snow and ice. Ice and heavy snow can damage power lines, and below-freezing temperatures may result in thermal expansion inside your electrical wires. This poses a risk for short circuits and outages.
Faulty wiring, incorrect use of space heaters, and improperly installed outdoor holiday lights are among the dangers winter poses to your electrical system. Keep your home safe this winter with the following 10 tips for the coldest days of the year.
1. Have an Electrical Safety Inspection
Cold weather adds extra stress to your electrical system. Your house’s wiring can become brittle and break easily. This can lead to short circuits and possibly a fire.
Homeowners often take their electrical systems for granted. Just as you have your HVAC system checked regularly, you should get your electrical system inspected to ensure it’s in good condition.
Professionals from Finch Home Solutions can inspect your home’s electrical system and help spot potential problems before they turn into something serious that could be dangerous or costly. They’ll look for frayed wires, signs of damage, and loose connections. They’ll also make sure your electric panel is sufficient and up to code and that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.
2. Only Use a Licensed Electrician
With all the “how-to” videos available online, you may be tempted to try fixing electrical problems yourself. However, this isn’t a good idea. Always hire a licensed electrician who has the proper training and experience. Homeowners who attempt to take care of electrical issues themselves are one of the leading causes of winter house fires. Furthermore, touching exposed wires or electrical outlets when you aren’t sure what you’re doing can cause electric shocks.
Don’t tackle any electrical projects yourself. Rely on the experts from Finch Home Solutions and keep you and your home safe.
3. Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets
Protect your house from electrical problems this winter by not overloading the outlets. At most, you should only plug one high-wattage appliance into a single outlet. Besides tripping the breaker, too many devices plugged into the same outlet is a common cause of electrical fires. Unplug unused devices and spread out devices into other outlets.
You should also avoid overloading extension cords. This is a rule homeowners often break at Christmas when plugging in lights and decorations. Make sure the extension cords you use are rated for the task.
4. Be Careful With Electrical Cords, Power Strips, and Outlets
Check electrical cords often for signs of wear and tear. Frayed cords may trip a breaker and can cause a fire. Keep electrical cords and power strips out from underneath rugs and behind furniture. Covering them may cause you to overlook frayed cords. Unnoticed problems can spark a fire. Use safety covers on all outlets if you have small children in your home.
5. Only Use Weatherproof Outdoor Electrical Outlets
Most homes have at least one electrical outlet outdoors. They’re very convenient for running extension cords for holiday lights and operating outdoor equipment such as leaf blowers. Unfortunately, outdoor outlets aren’t always weatherproof and can cause electrical issues in the winter.
If water gets into your outdoor outlet, it can cause a short circuit and lead to a fire. Snow and ice that build up around the outlets can interfere with the correct flow of electricity. Have a professional from Finch Home Solutions check your outdoor outlets and replace them with waterproof ones if necessary. Additionally, always use extension cords rated for outdoor use in these outlets.
6. Use Electric Blankets With Caution
An electric blanket on your bed is a fantastic way to stay warm and cozy at night. But when used incorrectly, it can pose a fire hazard. To avoid overheating and sparking flames, turn the blanket on to warm your bed for no more than 30 minutes, and then turn it off before you fall asleep.
Avoid putting heavy objects on top of electric blankets, and never fold them while using them. These habits can damage the wires inside, cause them to overheat, and potentially spark fire.
7. Be Cautious With Space Heaters
Space heaters are a common cause of winter home fires. There are several precautions to take for space heater safety. First, never plug a space heater into a power strip or an extension cord. Most space heaters require an electrical current higher than power strips and extension cords can handle, causing them to melt, burn, or catch on fire.
Never leave a space heater on while sleeping. Don’t use portable propane space heaters indoors unless specifically designed for indoor use. Monitor your space heaters to make sure they aren’t overheating, and always turn them off before leaving your house.
8. Install Whole-Home Surge Protection
Sudden increases in electrical flow through power lines can cause a power surge. This can happen for various reasons, including when high winds from a strong winter storm blow tree branches into power lines. These surges can damage all electric and electronic equipment in your home.
Having Finch Home Solutions install whole-home surge protection keeps your home, appliances, and devices safe. It can also prevent fires by lessening the risk of overloaded circuits.
9. Protect Your Electrical System From Water Leaks
It only takes a tiny bit of water to cause shorts and sparks that will ruin your electrical system and possibly start a fire. Winter brings ice and snow that melts and causes leaks, resulting in short circuits and other electrical problems. Protecting your home from water leaks is essential.
Avoid any worries about water leaks causing problems with your electrical system by installing a water sensor on your main electrical panel. These sensors are designed to detect the smallest amount of moisture so that you can avoid severe damage.
Additionally, inspect your home regularly for signs of water damage, such as dampness, water stains on ceilings or walls, mold, or mildew. Clear your gutters and downspouts of debris so they won’t become clogged and cause water to enter your house.
10. Practice Christmas Tree Safety
Holiday fires from unsafe practices with Christmas trees are all too common. Avoid disaster by using a surge protector for the lights on the tree to eliminate voltage spikes. Don’t connect more than three strings of lights, and make sure each string has the same number of bulbs.
Turn off all holiday lights, both indoors and outdoors, before retiring for the night or leaving home. Be sure to only use extension cords intended for outdoor use to power your outdoor lights. Don’t place any outdoor decorations within 10 feet of power lines.
Rely on the Pros
Inspecting electrical systems and making repairs to keep your home safe from electrical hazards in the winter requires a knowledgeable, licensed electrician. Serving Shakopee, MN, and the Twin Cities area, the pros at Finch Home Solutions can perform a host of electrical services. We can help you with electrical repair, lighting upgrades, surge protection, smoke alarm installation, and more. Call Finch Home Solutions today for all of your home electrical needs.