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Outdoor Electrical Outlets Importance and Safety Tips

With summer around the corner, your days of social distancing and self-isolation are likely filled with dreams of barbecues and backyard parties. Get your home ready to entertain by making sure your exterior outlets are safe. Outdoor electrical outlets are exposed to the elements and therefore, extra precaution must be taken to prevent fires and electrical shocks. Here are some tips for getting your outdoor electrical outlets ready for summer.

Install Weather Resistant Outlets

Installing weather resistant outlets is an absolute must! The National Electrical Code requires that all outside electrical outlets be weather resistant ground fault circuit interrupters (WR GFCIs). This special type of outlet has a cover that helps keep out rain, snow, ice, and humidity when installed correctly. Additionally, WR GFCIs use components that are corrosion-resistant and are designed to protect users from getting an electrical shock by cutting off the current if there is a surge. While these outlets are standard in newer homes, you may want to double-check your existing outside outlets if you are in an older home. If you do not have weather-resistant outlets, you’ll want to get them installed ASAP.

Check Your Wires

Keeping your outdoor electrical outlets also means checking your wires regularly. This will help you spot potential problems. Always make sure you untangle any wires. Additionally, you want to examine your wires for any nicks, cuts, or grays. These can all lead to problems and possible injury.

Lay New Wires Carefully

If you are installing new outdoor electrical outlets you need to be cautious as to where you lay the wire. You want to avoid laying wires in areas with high foot traffic, such as walkways and sidewalks. You should also avoid laying new wires near trees as well.

Keep Outlets Clear

It is also important that you keep your outlets visible. This means keeping grass, landscaping, etc. away from the outlet box. When you keep your outside electrical outlets visible you are less likely to forget they are there, preventing injury.

Watch for Water

Just as you want to avoid mixing outlets and water inside your home, the same is true outside too. Obvious places to avoid placing exterior outlets include near swimming pools, jacuzzis, or fountains. However, you also want to consider areas of your yard that tend to pool water or flood. Avoid putting any electrical work in these areas.

Avoid Storms

Another important point to consider in keeping your outdoor electrical outlets safe is to not use them during storms or rain. Using electrical appliances during storms puts you at risk of electric shock. Therefore, it is best to avoid using electricity outside during a storm.

Double Check Appliances and Extension Cords

When using appliance or extension cords outside, you should always make sure they are safe for outdoor use. This means double-checking the manual warnings for appliances and extension cords. If an appliance says “not for outdoor use” keep it indoors and avoid using it outside.

Get a Professional Opinion for Your Outdoor Electrical Outlets

If you’re confused as to whether or not your existing outside electrical outlets are weather-resistant, don’t hesitate to get a professional opinion. Our electricians at Wire Craft Electric can help you make sure you have outside outlets that are up to code through an electrical inspection. They can even help you install new outlets or do some electrical outlet repair if you’re coming up short.

Request a services and give us a call at 206-542-0208 to schedule an appointment to get your outdoor electrical outlets summer-ready.

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Electrical Outlets: 9 Types That You Should Know

Ever wondered why the electrical outlets in your bathroom are different from the ones installed in your bedroom? No, it’s not just because they were bought and installed at different times. Each type of electrical outlet has a purpose, with some being more modern and up-to-date than others.

Here are ten different types of electrical outlets you should know in your home:

  1. 2 Prong Outlets
  2. 3-Prong Outlets
  3. GFCI Outlets
  4. Switch/Outlet Combos
  5. 20 Amp, 125 Volt Outlets
  6. 20 Amp, 250 Volt Outlets
  7. Tamper Resistant Outlets
  8. Recessed Outlets
  9. USB Outlets

#1 2-Prong Electrical Outlets

Few appliances and electronics use 2-prong plugs anymore. These outlets are typically 15 amp, 125 volts. They are only used with ungrounded circuits. Modern homes no longer use 2-prong outlets due to coding requirements and safety concerns. However, you can still find these outlets in older homes.

#2 3-Prong Outlets

These outlets are some of the most common in modern homes. Like 2-prong outlets, the 3-prong outlet is also 15 amp, 125 volts. 3-prong outlets are far safer than their counterparts with 2-prongs. This added safety comes from the extra slot for grounding. This grounding works to prevent electrical shock from any loose wires.

#3 GFCI Outlets

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are required in any area that is close to water. This includes bathrooms, kitchens, laundry areas, outdoors, or any other area near water. This is because the outlet automatically trips, cutting off power to equipment, if there is any leak or spike in current. These outlets are easily recognizable by their two different colored TEST and RESET buttons in the center of the outlet.

#4 Switch/Outlet Combos

If you need the functionality of both a switch and an outlet, a switch/outlet combo is the perfect multi-functional solution. Without having to run additional wiring or install a new electrical box, a switch/outlet combo lets you have both a switch and an outlet in a single unit. These combos are especially helpful when you need to keep plugs away from pets and small children.

#5 20 Amp, 125 Volt Outlets

Some appliances require more power than others. This is where 20 Amp, 125-volt outlets come in handy. You can tell these outlets apart from other 3-prong outlets by the small horizontal slot on the top-left vertical slot on the outlet. These outlets are often used with large electrical appliances and are specified by electrical code.

#6 20 Amp, 250 Volt Outlets

When you need lots of power, look for a 20 amp, 250-volt outlet. These outlets are less common in homes, but necessary for high voltage appliances like air conditions and air compressors. You’ll want to make sure you have the proper circuit before installing them. Also, always make sure to check the specifications on your appliance before plugging it in. Some air conditioners require an even stronger 30 Amp outlet. If you’re not sure, always check with an electrician.

#7 Tamper Resistant Outlets

Tamper-resistant outlets or tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs) have been required by code since 2008. These outlets are some of the safest due to the internal shutters that block foreign objects from being put into the outlet. The internal shutters will only open with a 2-prong or grounded plug. Using TRRs helps prevent children from getting shocked by tampering with the outlet.

#8 Recessed Electrical Outlets

If you’ve ever had to keep a gap between your furniture and the wall because of a plug, you know how frustrating it can be. However, recessed outlets aim to fix this problem. Recessed outlets are newer outlets that are pushed into the wall. This means the space that a plug would normally take is absorbed into the wall. This removes the gap between the wall and furniture and ultimately gives you more space in your room.

#9 USB Outlets

Lastly, USBs are in high demand with all of the different devices that need charging daily. It can often seem like there simply aren’t enough outlets once all of the chargers get plugged in. This can be avoided by using new USB outlets. Instead of the traditional pronged outlets, USB outlets provide several USB ports for your cell phones, tablets, and other electronics to charge.

Which Type of Outlet Do I Need?

You want to make sure that your outlets meet current electric codes. This means that if you are installing new outlets you’ll need GFCI outlets near water sources and TRR outlets. As far as installing combo outlets or USB outlets, it comes down to personal preference and needs. You’ll also want to check your appliances and make sure you have the proper voltage. If you are unsure of whether your outlet will work with a new appliance, check with an electrician. The electricians at WireCraft electric can tell you if your outlet and circuit are strong enough. Before you attempt to replace or change any electrical outlet, please remember that working with electricity can be dangerous. Therefore, unless you are sure of what you are doing, it is always best to work with a trained professional on electrical outlet repair. Call us at 206-542-0208 today to set up an appointment.

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