We learned not to mix water and electricity when we were children, didn’t we? We listened but never really understood why.
While water does conduct electricity, water by itself is not an conductor. It’s the impurities in water, including minerals, dust, and other microscopic elements, that we do not normally associate with drinking water, that carry electrical currents. So, yeah…they conduct very well.
Here are the top four things to remember to keep electricity and water away from each other.
1. Proper extension cords: There are different types of extension cords with varied amperage ratings and gauges, 16 gauge cord (light duty), 12 gauge (heavy duty) and 10 gauge (extra heavy duty). Your electrical appliance manual should tell you the correct gauge to use. Obviously, never use an indoor extension cord outside. These types are not designed to mingle with the elements and using them can result in electrocution or fire.
2. Make sure your bathroom, kitchen, and outdoor areas have the right electrical outlets: Newer homes are usually constructed to the National Electrical Code (NEC), but older models may not be. Extensive changes to NEC happen every three years, so it is important to have a professional check your home for outdated wiring as new electrical code updates are released. Your electrician should be aware of the latest updates. To be sure, ask your electrician to check your bathroom, kitchen, and outdoor outlets to make sure your receptacles are “up to code” and are installed on at least one separate 20 amp branch unit to accommodate high-wattage devices such as hair dryers and blenders. In the case of the photo above, the correct receptacle was installed for outside but weather, insects and age eventually allowed water to seep into the electrical housing. Water, meet electricity…ZAP! Not good.
3. Think before you plugin: Don’t use power tools in the rain or near pools. Electrical power tools use high wattage and should never mix with wet conditions.
4. Keep appliances away from water: Washing machines and dishwashers should be safely hooked up to the water lines and checked for leaks. Ignoring a leak is asking for trouble. Water dripping onto a power cord can cause a home fire.