The electrical outlets in your home's exterior space are essential in providing power and lighting to floodlights and other outdoor lighting fixtures and entertainment systems. They also make it easy and convenient for you to use power tools such as saws, lawn mowers and power washers without investing in additional power strips. However, due to their location, outdoor outlets are prone to damage from rainwater, elements, and manipulation by kids and pets. Here are some ways in which you can ensure safety and prevent electrical hazards when using these devices.
Make sure the outlets are for outdoor use
Not all types of power outlets are suitable for outdoor use. There are specially made devices that are designed to withstand the environment while providing electrical safety in the home. A typical outdoor outlet should have "test" and "reset" switches which are a part of the home's ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). The switches are used to test the reliability of the GFCI in preventing electrical shock.
When you press the test button, any tool or appliance that's plugged in will lose power. Hitting the reset button should restore power to the device. If this doesn't work, it indicates that the wiring is faulty. Having a properly working GFCI outlet for outdoor use is essential as you can always identify a problem and prevent electrical issues in the rest of the home.
Invest in weatherproof covers
Outdoor outlets are usually exposed to weather elements, particularly moisture and rainwater. Water can cause electrical sparks which can then cause a fire. Also, if someone touches a wet outlet when it's switched on, they can get electrocuted. Installing weatherproof covers can help in covering the outlets and protecting them from the elements. Note that even if your sockets have the flip up tabs, they are not enough to provide the required protection. The covers can also deter kids and pets from trying to insert items into the sockets and causing damage.
Install the outlets correctly
Installation is critical to the safety and longevity of your outdoor outlets. First, ensure that they are not installed very close to the ground as this exposes them to runoff during the rainy season. Install them a few inches above the ground. Also, invest in quality accessories such as the mounting brackets, cover plates, and gaskets. Make sure that no wiring is exposed to reduce the chances of damage. Also, ground the socket correctly to the home's GFCI.
Contact a qualified electrician so that they can purchase and install quality external outlets for your home. They can also examine the existing ones and determine their suitability in guaranteeing safety if there is an electrical hazard.