All our electrical wires and appliance cables can all get damaged over time just from daily use or simply by the way they are handled. We’ve seen a lot of this recently. 

Damaged cables are one of the most common causes of fires and injuries and below is some of the main reasons your cables become damaged and how to extend the life of them.

What causes my cables get damaged?

  • Excessive temperatures: Extreme cold, heat, pressure and moisture can cause your cables to become brittle and get damaged more quickly.
  • Animals and pests: Domestic and wild animals can mistake your cables as a toy or food and try and chew through them. Rats and mice particularly love the taste of insulation protecting the cable.
  • Contractor/DIY damage: A contractor or yourself if you are a keen on DIY may drill through a cable or catch a cable on your tools. Or simply run it over with the mower. It's worth noting that you should also inspect the cables of any tool before it is used.
  • Day to day wear and tear: be gentle with the appliance cables do not tug or pull at them this will deteriorate the cable and make it unsafe to use much more quickly.
  • Overloading: A excessive electrical load (for example, too many plugs on an extension lead) can cause the insulation (the outer sheath) to melt. 

Why are damaged and worn cables dangerous?

Most modern appliance cable are coated with PVC outer core and each cable inside has a separate PVC sheath. This material is non-conductive which means that electricity can flow through them safely and will not cause harm to anyone touching them.

If the cable becomes damaged or worn away, then the wires inside can become exposed. This means you are more likely to come into contact with the wires, which can cause a serious electric shock or injury.

What do I do if have a damaged cable?

We would recommend that a visual inspection is carried before using them where it is possible. If they are damaged in any way or feel warm to the touch, they should not be used.

What to check for:

  • Tears
  • Cracking
  • Bulges
  • Abrasions
  • Exposed copper wires
  • Melted plastic
  • Signs of burn marks

If you see any of the above signs on your cables the best course of action is to simply replace it. 

If you have any damaged appliance cables, we strongly advise that it is replaced by a qualified electrician.

How can I extend the life of my electrical cables?

  • Never run cables under carpets or rugs. People stepping on them can cause the wires to become compressed damaging the insulation. If you have to run a cable across a floor, use a protector strip.
  • Take care when carrying out DIY projects. A stud finder can help identify wires in walls and never drill above or below a socket or light switch just to be on the safe side.
  • Keep appliances away from sources of heat and water. Prime example cables behind cookers or fridges can over heat quickly.
  • Keep cables away from the appliance when it is running. For example, if you are using a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower, don’t let the cables get run over by them, if you are using a mower please make sure the socket that is being used is protected by an RCD. Please visit our website to see why it is important
  • Don’t wrap cables around an appliance when storing it. This can cause excessive stress on the cable and damage the internals.
  • When using an extension lead. make sure it is fully unwound and detangled to prevent overheating.

If you need any help or advise on this give you local Cheshunt electricians a call on 01992 276087.