How To Protect Your Outdoor Outlets
What would we do without electricity? If you’ve ever had a power outage last more than a few moments, you know how integral it is in our daily lives.
Want to heat something up in the microwave? Nope, can’t do it.
Want to charge up your phone? Nope, can’t do that either.
While you may have plenty of outlets inside to cover your needs, how about outside? Have you ever tried to plug in your laptop to continue working outside, only to find it was anything but convenient? Or maybe you’ve decided to decorate for a party; a string of lights would be pretty. Yet when you try and find an outlet, the only thing you discover is they are few and far between.
Not only can it be exasperating trying to find and use your outdoor outlets, but it can also be dangerous too.
Most outdoor outlets have weatherproof covers. But once you plug something in, the protection disappears. And that can be dangerous, even deadly, if it comes in contact with water from a sprinkler or a rainshower.
Electricity and water don’t mix. Fortunately, there are ways to make your outdoor outlets safer.
First, select the right kind of outdoor outlet. Yes, there is a difference. The National Electrical Code requires that you use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet when you install them outside. These are the outlets that come with the “test” and “reset” buttons built in. You should also look for a WV embossed on the outlet, which indicates its weather resistant.
Next, be sure the outside outlet is properly installed. This may be with a gasket and a cover plate, or with a weatherproof cover. A professional understands the nuances of installing an outlet that will be used in outdoor situations; never try installing this on your own. If moisture gets in, it can cause tripping breakers or melted outlets. Or worse.
Weatherproof covers can also provide you with added protection. Sometimes referred to as bubble covers, these additions are now mandated by the National Electrical Code. They provide a deep lid with grooves that allow protection while plugging items in. The item feeds out of the bottom while still protecting the outlet from surrounding elements.
Finally, never assume an outdoor outlet is safe. If you’ve owned your home for years, or recently moved into a new-to-you house, be sure to check all outside outlets before you use them to ensure they are the proper type and were properly installed.