Why Outdoor Outlets Need Extra Protection

Outdoor electrical outlets provide a convenient place to power up everything you need when you’re outside. From power tools to lights for your yard, to entertainment late in the evenings, homeowners are spending more time than ever outdoors. Failure to properly protect these outdoor outlets, however, can not only damage your equipment, but can also be extremely dangerous for your family and your home as well.

Though most outdoor electrical outlets are installed with a weatherproof cover to keep moisture out and dirt from accumulating in the receptacle, the problems start when you plug in a device. By prying open the cover and inserting a plug, you open up the opportunity for danger.

But with a few common sense measures, you can ensure the safety of everyone around you.

Make sure all outdoor outlets are outdoor friendly

National Electric Code requirements state that outdoor outlets must be ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets for safety. What separates these outlets from others is the TEST and RESET buttons you’ll find on the receptacles. This is the only type of outlet used in outdoor situations.

Ensure you have a weatherproof cover in place

Most outdoor outlets have a flip cover that protects the outlet when not in use. You can also add in a weatherproof cover that protects after you plug in an item too. Sometimes referred to as a “flip up” or “bubble cover,” the National Electric Code now makes them mandatory on all new construction. They are designed with a deep lid that allows a cord to run out of the bottom while protecting the outlet from any kind of moisture or elements.

Be sure outdoor outlets are properly installed

If you’ve moved into a home with outdoor outlets in place, don’t assume they are the right kind. Outdoor outlets should be installed with a gasket and a cover plate, a sealed connection to the wall, and with a weatherproof cover in place. The external mounting brackets provided with the outlet should always be used to ensure moisture stays away from inside the box. Any deviation in this process can cause tripped breakers, melted outlets, even fires. If you aren’t sure if something is wired correctly, it’s better to have it inspected before use.

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