Sometimes you need power and there are no outlets nearby. This is where the mighty EXTENSION CORD shines! However, beware that all extension cords are not created equally. Do not assume it is a heavy-duty cord just because it is orange or yellow!

Each cord has an amperage rating, which should be checked before using it on a high-amperage appliance. And some things aren’t meant for extension cords at all. For instance, an air-compressor should be plugged directly into an outlet, and more air hose added to get the length you need — not more cord.

Cords come in all lengths and gauges. The 3-foot ‘indoor only’ extension cord you pick up at the local Dollar Store is not in the same league as the heavy-duty indoor/outdoor cords from the hardware store. How to tell them apart? Well, most are labeled – but there are other indicators as well. Heavy duty cords are THICK and hearty. This sets them apart from those flimsy thin cords.

Another thing to keep an eye on is the condition of your cord. If the insulation has become damaged, or there are rips or cracks in the cording, THROW IT AWAY. Trying to repair the cord isn’t worth the risk of electrical fire. If the cord is crackling when plugged in, or melted around the outlet, THROW IT AWAY. I’ve had several cords over the years that have given up – it happens. Like most things, cords do have a lifespan. And things like poor weather conditions, and wear and tear over time can compromise the integrity of the cord. When using an extension cord, feel the plug every now and then. If the plug feels warm, stop using the cord immediately. Know when to replace, and stay safe!

In conclusion, you should use common sense when using extension cords. Read the label before plugging them in, and be sure to check them periodically for wear.