If you have small appliances, you've seen the warning in the manuals to unplug them when they're not in use. For those appliances that have LED displays or internal clocks, that makes sense; you want to stop the drain of energy when you don't need the appliance. But for others, like nondigital toasters, the advice seems to be unnecessary. However, it's very necessary for your safety and the integrity of your home's wiring. Here are two big reasons why unplugging that toaster or that hair dryer when it's not in use is so important.
Faulty Circuitry and Wiring
Most appliances either have a shut-off switch or shut off automatically. Think of a toaster oven that has an "off" setting on its control panel, or a toaster that shuts off when the toast pops out. However, the switches and circuitry inside the appliance can break and not shut off fully. That means the appliance will continue to draw enough energy to heat up, and it could cause a fire.
Another problem with keeping an appliance plugged in can occur if the cord is frayed. You need to regularly inspect appliance cords to ensure there are no exposed areas of wiring and that the cord isn't breaking or pulling away from the plug or appliance. If the cord is frayed, a spark or excessive heat can cause a fire.
Even if the appliance is in great shape, if it draws any power, that stresses out the electrical circuit to which it's attached. The outlets in your home are arranged in circuits that deliver a certain amount of electricity. The number of outlets per circuit varies from room to room. Some circuits that are supposed to handle big appliances, like refrigerators, may have one isolated outlet.
If you try to draw more power than the outlet can provide, the outlet can short circuit. This is when the circuit breaker flips or the fuse blows, if you have really old wiring. But overstressing an outlet can also result in an electrical fire if the wiring in the wall is bad. Any appliance that's not being used should be unplugged so that you can get as much power as possible out of the circuits for what you are using.
If you're not sure that your home's wiring can handle everything you want it to, or if you know the wiring is old, talk to an electrician, like one from D & D Electric Enterprises, Inc., about getting the wiring updated. Newer wiring is safer and can handle all the gadgets modern life demands you have. You should still unplug appliances that are not in use—updating the wiring doesn't eliminate the problem of a faulty shut-off switch. However, updating the wiring will give you more power and reduce the chances of a short circuit.