Extension cords seem like a safe place to save a few dollars by buying something cheaper.
It's a bad idea and could very easily lead to a serious fire.
The other day a friend handed me an extension cable that they'd found in their home office and asked me for my thoughts on what had happened. According to the owner, the extension cord had not been overloaded.
Here's the extension cord (it's a UK cord, so the sockets are different to the ones you see in the US). One of the terminals had melted to the point of being unusable and completely unsafe.
My diagnosis was a simple one -- poor quality product. And on taking it apart I spotted several issues that point to terrible quality control.
First, the reason for the overheating is poor quality contacts. The one that melted is the most obvious, but many of the others are showing signs of overheating.
There were also signs of damage on the cable going to the neon indicator, and the insulation on the neutral wire had been crushed almost through by being clamped underneath the earth rail.
All in all, this thing was a deathtrap. It's amazing that no one was injured or killed by it.
So, take a few minutes to check any extension cords that you might have at home or the office. With the increase in working from home, and people building impromptu offices and classrooms, poor quality electronics may have made their way into your office.
If you see any signs of physical damage -- or smell burning -- then unplug and replace them immediately.
Dangerous extension cords
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