Bob Vila Radio: Extension Cords

By Sarah Monzon & Bob Vila | Updated May 7, 2013 9:55 AM

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I always say you’ve gotta use the right tool for the job, but did you know there’s a right cord for every tool?

Extension Cords


Listen to BOB VILA ON EXTENSION CORDS, or read text below:

You need a cord that, when fully extended, is the right gauge and length for your job. A cord that’s still coiled can start to act like a transformer under heavy loads and can dangerously overheat. This is especially common with smaller-gauge cords.

Look for grounded cables that are labeled UL- and OSHA-approved so you can be sure they’ve been tested and found to be safe. And although it’s more expensive, go for a thicker gauge. Twelve-gauge cable is okay if you’re only using one power tool, but for multiple tools or for outdoors, 10-gauge is best. Electrical power dissipates after the first 100 feet and insufficient amperage can burn out your tools.

For cords you use a lot in the same place, install a wall-mounted cord reel near an outlet. Try a portable spring-rewind wheel for long cords to save you time and hassle on the job.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

For more related content, consider:

Electrical Tools
Home Office Wiring Connections
Workshop Safety