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It Is Air Conditioner Season! An Electrical Safety Tip from McCurdy Electric

June 25, 2010

Air Conditioner season is upon us once again! Here is a summer safety tip to keep us all staying cool this summer.


An issue that I see frequently, in both homeowners and small business owners, is that they use extension cords for “permanent” or “fixed” installations. That is, an extension cord is plugged in to an outlet, ran behind some furniture or even underneath a rug, and then used to provide power to an electrical appliance such as an air conditioner.


Not to scare anyone, but this is a bad idea on a couple of levels:


1) Did you know that extension cords are only designed for temporary use? That’s right. An extension cord should never be used for a “fixed” installation. The National Electrical Code states that the manufacturer’s installation instructions must be followed – I guarantee you that it tells you in the instruction booklet of your new air conditioner to not use an extension cord with it.


2) The extension cord that you use may be undersized. That is, the physical size of the wire inside the cord may not be large enough to handle the large amount of power that an appliance like an air conditioner needs. If this is the case, the cord may become warm. So warm in fact that there is a very real risk for fire.


3) The cord is more than likely subject to physical damage. If the extension cord is run behind furniture, underneath a rug, or even just lying on the floor, it is subject to physical damage. For obvious reasons this is a potentially dangerous thing. Even a heavy-duty cord will become frayed and worn if subjected to enough abuse over time. A frayed or damaged cord should always be destroyed and disposed of, so that no one is able to use it in the future. No amount of electrical tape can satisfactorily repair an extension cord. A good rule of thumb is that if the cord doesn’t look like it originally did from the factory, it’s probably not good anymore.


4) It’s always best to have a dedicated circuit for large appliances such as your air conditioner. If you don’t have a receptacle outlet near your window-mounted air conditioner, or if the circuit breaker keeps tripping when you turn your AC on, you may want to have one installed.


McCurdy Electric offers a free visual safety inspection, with a written report, on every service call that we do. If you have any immediate questions about safety, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Please offer your comments below, and stay cool!

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