Hot Topics: Is It Safe to Use an Electrical Cord This Way?
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When doing anything involving electricity, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you use common sense, however, chances are there will be no negative consequences. This DIYer gets approval from some in our forum for his daily use of an extension cord, with a few safety suggestions thrown in for good measure.
Original Post: Safe to use extension cord the way I am?
I have a problem with my kitchen outlets and I'm wondering if I can leave a 12-foot extension cord plugged into my dining room and use it as needed in the kitchen? I would basically use it like another outlet in the kitchen. If leaving the extension cord plugged in is not the safe way to go, can plugging and unplugging it hurt my wall outlet? (Like make it loose or break it, etc?) I know it doesn't sound too ethical, but with two children, Christmas...money is kinda tight.
PJmax Group Moderator
An extension cord is only designed for temporary use. If you unplug it from the wall when not in use, that would be considered temporary. Just make sure the cord is heavy enough for what it's powering.
Yeah, I understand. Actually, what I'm using it for is a small electric roaster we use to cook on 2-3 times per day. 1-3 hours total time daily. So basically, it's still considered "permanent" if the cord is plugged into the outlet, but nothing on the other side is?
If it were me with children in the house, I would absolutely secure the cord to something solid. I'd still unplug it when not in use to be "temporary," but along the length I would use something like a cable tie every 12" that wraps around the cord and is screwed through a hole into something substantial.
It's hokey, but a loose cord connected to a roaster with kids is asking for an accident. I'd probably also try and run it as high off the ground as possible.
In a commercial occupancy, the fire department would absolutely cite it as not kosher even if you "unplug" it. What I used to tell businesses (after educating them and giving them time to comply) is that they would be cited if I came in and saw it connected, even if they unplugged it in front of me. The intent was what would get them. If it was connected to a fan during a heatwave—not an issue; connected to the copy machine in the alcove—negative.
I can't speak to the legitimacy code-wise of using an extension cord in a private dwelling as an additional outlet in another room. My suggestion is more a preventative comment.
The biggest concern with the extension cord is the possibility of overloading it and causing a fire. If you get a 12 gauge extension cord, you will be fine (but still not legal), except for a trip hazard. I'd suggest something more permanent since you are using the roaster so often. You can buy nonmetallic raceway from a hardware store and run it along the wall. You will need this raceway and some elbows and couplings to go with it:
Then, you will need two of these. One goes over the existing outlet junction box and the outlet will mount on the new box. One goes to new location of outlet.
Basically, you mount a junction box on top of the existing outlet and tap power from it, run the raceway to the new location and install the junction box and outlet. It's pretty easy to install with just basic tools. Metallic raceway is stronger, but harder to work with. You can put 12-2 NM cable inside this raceway.
Okay, very well put. The cord was going to be up high, obviously, so they couldn't reach it, but I appreciate your concern. After reading stuff and your response, I'll just plug it in as needed. Will it damage the outlet in the wall from plugging and unplugging if it's done gently?
The outlet will eventually wear out, but that is no different from plugging and unplugging an appliance straight into the outlet. The outlet should be replaced when it does not hold a plug anymore.
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