A spring electrical checklist can help you take stock of any potential dangers and prevent damage caused by spring storms and electrical failures. According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012–2016 (behind fires caused by unattended equipment), accounting for 13% of home structure fires. Proper maintenance could have prevented many of these fires from starting. This year, make it a priority to also check and inspect your household electrical items while you’re doing your yearly spring cleaning.
Here’s a spring electrical checklist for a safer home:
- Extension cords are meant to be used temporarily. Consider hiring an electrician to install extra receptacle outlets as necessary.
- Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, etc.) should be plugged directly into an outlet, never an extension cord.
- Test to make sure all of your indoor GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets are working properly.
- If you don’t have GFCI outlets in areas with high moisture (bathrooms, kitchen, outdoors, etc.) you should hire a professional electrician to install them.
- Don’t overload your home’s outlets. Make sure multiple heat-producing appliances (microwave, coffee maker, etc.) are not plugged into a single outlet.
- Check your fire extinguisher(s). Make sure they are still pressurized properly in case of a fire.
- Test smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Replace batteries as necessary.
- Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the dust behind it. Dust buildup can increase the risk of hazards around the electrical components.
- Install surge protectors to keep appliances and electronics safe during storms and power outages.
- Have your circuit panel and meter box professionally inspected after a bad spring storm.
- Change burnt-out lightbulbs and consider upgrading to LED bulbs.
- Check outdoor lighting fixtures and bulbs for wear and tear.
- Install or update your home security system to protect your home when you’re away.
- Check outdoor GFCI outlets to make sure they are working properly.
- Consider adding landscape lighting for added safety and curb appeal.
- Before digging, check with the utility companies to mark power and water lines in your yard.
- Inspect power tools for frayed power cords, broken plugs, and weathered or damaged housings.
- Install a backup generator to protect your home and your family from summer power outages.
- Prune or consider removing trees close to power lines to prevent storm damage.
- Review power line safety if you see tree limbs near power lines on your property.
- If you’d like to watch the game outside, consider installing an outdoor TV or two.