The outdoor electrical outlets endure all types of weather conditions. They are also at great risk of damage under natural disasters such a flash floods, torrential rain, or hail storms. You must need outdoor outlets protection should you live in a flood-prone area or a place that experiences prolonged, severe winter.
Outdoor Electrical Outlets
These electrical terminal are installed on the outside of homes to provide power to outdoor lights and tools. They are the most convenient way to light up your yard and breathe life into entertainment devices during a backyard party! Unprotected outlets can short out and not only damage the equipment but also pose a safety hazard to the entire home.
Why Do the Outdoor Outlets Need Protection?
The standard outdoor outlets protection is a weatherproof cover that keeps dirt and moisture out. These are exposed to outside elements when you open the cover and plug in a device. Humidity can corrode the receptacle connections, and the accumulated dirt can create the chances of causing electrical shocks and fire.
Also, damaged or broken cover exposes the outlet’s internal wiring. It compromises the functions of regular and GFCI outlets. They may not trip properly in the event of an emergency, causing the live wire to start smoking or fire depending on the amount of voltage.
The fixtures come with mechanical protection to prevent any installation damage. They also have a steel or concrete enclosure to keep the wiring and other internal components out of sight and human touch.
Exposure to these following elements and many other things can ruin the outlets:
- Water and other liquids
- Power washing detergent
Some Useful Measures for Outdoor Outlets Protection
Unshielded fixtures can bring hazards in so many ways! Imagine you are watering the garden and some water gets into an exposed outlet without your notice. As water is a conductor, electricity will travel through it, get into the hose and your body, causing electrocution. Sounds scary? Well, take these measures to stay safe from any such unexpected accidents.
Choose the Right Type of Outlets
The National Electric Code requires using Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI outlets for the outdoor use. These have TEST and RESET buttons that make them suitable for outdoor situations. The fixtures immediately shut off the power upon detecting a breach or leak, thereby giving protection from electrical hazards.
Check the outlets for the letters ‘WR’ on them, which stand for weather-resistant. Having it means that they are rated for outdoor use. Another setup that will work in case you don’t have GFCI outlets is an indoor GFCI feeding WR-rated outdoor fixtures.
Install Weatherproof Covers
The National Electric Code now makes the use of these covers obligatory for the outdoor outlets protection on all new constructions. The standard fixtures come with a flip cover that keeps away external elements when the receptacles are not in use. But, you need something else for shielding them, especially when they are exposed at the time of plugging a device. Weatherproof covers, also known as bubble and flip-up covers, are the right choice for that purpose. They have a deep lid to fully protect the outlets from any external element.
Replace Old Outlets
The fixtures have metal contact points for the ground, hot, and neutral connections. These joints deteriorate over time and lose their hold over the cords. It results in heat generation because the contact blades of the receptacles have practically no contact zone and the plug connection’s contact points are exposed. The extra heat will cause tripping of the circuit breaker. You should replace the worn out receptacles as a safety measure.
Every outlet fixture has a particular amp rating. If the old one is 20-amp, you need to replace it with another one rated for 20-amp or more. However, it won’t work if you use a 15-amp receptacle instead.
Fix Loose Connections
The outlets have terminals with connection points. Sometimes, the wiring on these points may become loose and create safety hazards such as heat buildup and sparks in the junction box. If not repaired, loose connections could lead to an electrical fire. Take immediate action if you see burn marks around the terminals.
Make Sure of Proper Installation
Whether the outdoor outlets are already in place or you are going to install new ones in your home, make it certain that you have picked up the right type. Every standard receptacle should have a gasket, sealed connection, a cover plate, and a weatherproof cover. It should also come with the external mounting brackets. Any missing part could result in melted wires, tripped breakers, and fire hazards.
Remember to turn off circuit breaker’s power before beginning the installation process. Don’t turn the power on until you are finished with the proceeding.
Don’t Overcrowd an Outlet
The receptacles are rated for a maximum wattage, which could be 60W, 100W, or something else, for instance. Plugging devices that cross that wattage limit will overheat the internal wiring, causing the insulation to melt. If a fixture labels at 100W, you can use it for lighting one 60W and one 40W bulb or any other combination of devices that does not exceed the wattage limit.
The Benefits of Installing Outdoor Electrical Outlets
Installing outdoor outlets offer some unique benefits that you won’t get from the indoor units. Some of the advantages are:
What do you have to do to run outdoor lights and tools if you don’t have any outdoor receptacles? The only option is to use extension cords connected to the garage or indoor outlets. It’s unsafe and troublesome. Cords stretched over walkways will be prone to frequent trippings, leading to short circuits and fire hazards.
Reduces Loads on Indoor Circuits
What happens during the Christmas time or a party? You have to run all the lights and equipment through several extension cords and cable boxes stretched from the indoor and garage. It overloads those circuits and increases the risk of tripping and other hazards. Outdoor receptacles solve that problem by sharing the load.
The Final Words
Due to the global warming, the climate is likely to be more severe each year and causing more natural disasters. With these situations in mind, households need to ensure outdoor outlets protection to maximize the security.
The danger could come in many forms. It could be a loose terminal screw, the wrong wire type, or a cracked cover. If you lack the technical knowledge to spot the problem, hire a trained professional to provide a safety solution tailored to the requirements of your home.