Electrical Safety Tips

Over the last 100 years or so electricity has become essential part of our lives. Providing heat, light, convenience, even transportation — Modern electricity is probably the most useful invention ever harnessed, yet it also has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused; but improperly or carelessly applied it can cause fire, shock, even death. Some of these issues are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Some safety tips to remember:

  • Make sure all lamp cords, appliance cords, extension cords, etc. are in good condition. A frayed or cracked cord could cause a shock or fire. Replace old and damaged extension cords with new ones having the certification label of an independent testing laboratory on the cord.
  • Check to see that extension cords are not overloaded, as indicated by the ratings labeled on the cord and the appliance. Overloaded extension cords could cause fires. Change the cord to a higher rated one or unplug some appliances, and remember that extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis and are not intended as permanent household wiring.
  • Look for telltale signs of electrical problems such as dimming of lights, frequent circuit breaker trips or blown fuses. If you ever see signs of wires overheating or notice the odor of burning electrical wiring insulation call for a professional evaluation immediately.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • To reduce the risks of electric shock, make sure that GFCI protection is provided for outlets at kitchen counters, in bathrooms, and at outdoor receptacles. This is an affordable way to make “wet spaces” safer and should be done in every home. Test GFCIs monthly to make sure they are working properly.
  • Ask a qualified electrician if your home would benefit from Arc Fault (AFCI) protection, especially during inspections of older homes or upgrades to electrical systems.
  • Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures and lamps to make sure they are the correct wattage. Replace bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended to prevent overheating that could lead to a fire.
  • Check to see that fuses are the correct size for the circuit. Replacing a correct size fuse with a larger size fuse can present a serious fire hazard and should NEVER be done.
  • If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced immediately.
  • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Check to see if outlets and switches are unusually warm or hot to the touch. If so, an unsafe wiring condition could exist. Do not use the outlet or switch and have a qualified electrician check the wiring as soon as possible.

We hope you found this list of safety tips informative – Household Electrical Safety is such an important subject that both the Federal Government and the International Assocation of Certified Home Inspectors have published in-depth articles that are available for download. Please take the time to read the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Booklet (in PDF) and the iNACHI Article Guidlines For Electrical Safety here. Both will open in a new window.

As always, if you don’t see something you need please contact us and we’ll do our best to get you the information you desire.

We look forward to serving your inspection needs. Thanks for visiting us online.


Al Napier – CPI, IAC2
Vanguard Home Inspection



Contact Us

Please contact us today and let’s work together on your next residential inspection!


User Name
Lost Password?