9 Things You Should Never Do with Power Strips

There are a few rules you're probably breaking when it comes to power strip use.

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Our entire lives run on electricity, and if we’re being honest here, no one’s house has enough power outlets to keep everything running and charged. That’s why we rely so heavily on power strips to turn one plug into six or more, stretching the capabilities of our home’s electrical system. But, there are a few rules you’re probably breaking when it comes to power strip use. Here are 9 things you should never do with power strips.

Never plug a power strip into another power strip

If your power strips don’t reach quite far enough or you need some extra plugs, it’s tempting to string multiple strips together, daisy-chaining them by plugging one into the next. In a word—don’t. Not only is it against half a dozen OSHA regulations in a professional setting, but it can also cause one or more of the strips to fail or even catch fire.

Never use indoor power strips outdoors

While there are power strips that are designed for outdoor applications, unless your strip’s packaging specifically says it’s suited for outdoor use, it’s not designed to stand up to weather and water. Keep it inside and find one you can use safely out in the elements.

Never overload a power strip

Every power strip has a load capacity, which means it can only move so much power through its circuits at any given time. Overloading the strip can create a fire hazard, melting the plastic and damaging your home or business as well as any surrounding equipment. If you’re worried about overloading a power strip, take the time to determine the amperage requirements of everything you’re going to plug into it.

Never put a power strip under a rug

As electricity moves, the electrons can generate heat. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but if you put your power strip under a rug or in a tightly enclosed space, it can create a fire hazard. In addition, if you step on it or any attached power cables you can damage them, which can create a shock and/or fire hazard. Check out these other hidden things in your home that may be a fire hazard.

Never plug beauty tools into a power strip

Hairdryers, curling irons, straighteners, and other beauty tools all create heat and draw quite a bit of amperage to generate that heat. Power strips aren’t designed to generate that kind of consistent high amperage, so these beauty tools should be plugged into a GFCI-protected outlet. Do you know what the most overlooked fire hazard in your house is?

Never use a damaged power strip

How many times have you looked at a power strip, seen one burned-out outlet, then just plugged your device into the next socket that seemed okay? Don’t do that. If one socket is burned, chances are high that there is internal damage inside the power strip. That’s a fire hazard. Do you know these signs that your house may have a major electrical problem?

Never get a power strip wet

This should be common sense, but it happens often enough that it bears repeating. Electricity and water do not mix. Don’t get your power strip wet, or you risk frying yourself and everything that’s plugged into the strip. Here are the things you should never do during a power outage.

Never plug in a sump pump

Not only do you not want to get your power strip wet, you also don’t want it in areas with wetness potential, such as bathrooms and basements. It might seem like a good idea to plug your sump pump into a power strip, but think again. Better to go with a GFCI outlet that’s well above floor level in case the sump pump fails and flooding occurs.

Never leave them near children

A quick Google search will show you plenty of horror stories about kids putting fingers, toys, and forks into outlets and power strips. Don’t assume that they know better. Teach them to stay away from outlets, install outlet plugs in ALL wall and power-strip outlets, and don’t leave power strips in places where young children might think they’re something to play with.


The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Scott Huntington
Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. He's writen for Business Insider, The Oxford University Press, the Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.