This practice is more common than you think. If you have decorations or appliances outside but no outdoor outlets, you can bring power to your yard by connecting a plug to an indoor outlet and pulling the extension through a window or doorway to your applications outside.
Some people have outdoor outlets, but they are not enough. The safer option is to install more outlets. But while you wait, an extension cord through a window can provide a temporary solution.
Why Are Extension Cords Through A Window Dangerous?
This OHSA Training guide prohibits homeowners from running extensions and cables through windows. But why is that? What makes the practice so dangerous? Consider the following:
1). You Will Damage The Extension Cord
This is your biggest concern. Running an extension cord through a window is easy. But what happens when you close the window over or around the cable? Best Life Online expects the window to break the cable’s jacket.
A broken jacket exposes the conductors, and exposed conductors will lead to arcing, overheating, and fires.
Doorways are more dangerous because they expose the cord to human traffic. But windows are only slightly superior in that regard.
This assumes that you’ve kept the cable in place for long periods. Some people remove the extension cord every day before closing the window. This is the correct way of using extensions. They are temporary solutions. Keeping them in the same place for several weeks or months at a time is discouraged.
According to the University of Kansas, you should use extension cords for a maximum of ninety days.
2). The Window Won’t Close
Fraying only occurs when you close a window around a thin cable. Heavy-duty cords with a thick gauge won’t allow the window to close. Forcing the window to close over a thick line will damage the cord or the window.
3). Cold Air Will Enter
Some windows will close over a thick cable. But the cord will create a gap wide enough to pull cold air in and warm air out or the reverse. The same challenge will arise if you punch a small hole through the window to accommodate the cable.
Don’t downplay the impact a small hole can have on your home’s heating and cooling mechanisms. It can increase your utility bill by compelling the air conditioning unit to work harder than usual to maintain optimal temperatures.
This assumes that you live in your own home. Making holes through a window for your cable in a rented apartment is a bad idea. You can’t make such modifications without permission.
4). Mosquitoes Will Enter
Pests such as cockroaches and mosquitoes don’t need an excuse to invade your home. The gap an extension cord creates will invite insects into the house. Additionally, that gap creates a weakness that burglars can use to steal your valuables.
As you can see, despite the convenience it offers, this practice is not worth the trouble, not unless you take precautions to counteract all these threats and more.
How To Run An Extension Cord Through A Window?
- Get your tools, which include a tape measure, marker, pool noodle, drill, and a cutting knife.
- Identify the window you want to use and measure the opening’s width. Use the tape measure to mark that distance on the pool noodle.
- Cut the pool noodle with your knife using the marks you made.
- Measure the extension cord’s thickness.
- Use the drill to make a hole in the pool noodle that fits the extension’s thickness.
- Cut a slit on the side of the noodle leading to the hole, creating a path that allows the cord to enter the hole.
- Measure the window frame inside and use those measurements to make a horizontal slit on the noodle’s ends. Make sure the cut is perpendicular to the hole.
- Install the pool noodle and insert the cord into the hole.
- Close the window.
This DIY Prepper TV video shows consumers how to create an insulated barrier for an extension cord using a pool noodle. It probably sounds like a lot of work just to run an extension through a window.
But why bother? Why not install outlets outside? Some people don’t have a choice. For instance, that many homeowners use a generator outside to bring power to the appliances inside a home.
This means running an extension from the generator through a window or doorway into your house. In that regard, the insulated barrier above is essential.
How To Make An Extension Cord Through A Window Safer?
- If you’re running an extension cord from an outlet inside to an application outside, use an outdoor extension. Indoor extensions have thin insulation that can’t tolerate the strenuous conditions you find outside. Make sure your extension of choice has an outdoor rating.
- Use a grounded extension. The grounding function provides a path for excess current. It prevents electrocution in the event of a surge or short circuit. You should also apply GFCI technology. GFCIs trip when a ground fault occurs. A ground fault can occur when you expose an extension’s conductors to water.
- I recommend using the Koumecian Flat Extension cord. The cord is 0.9mm thick. It can slide beneath a door or window without leaving a large gap. You won’t damage the cable by closing the window. Laypeople rarely buy these flat cords because they only know the rounded versions. A flat line can fit under a sliding door or window.
- If you intend to leave the extension cord in place for multiple days and weeks, prepare for the worst. Use a waterproof cable capable of tolerating wet weather.
- You should only buy UL-listed cables. The organization tests these devices to determine their reliability and efficiency. You should only use extensions UL has approved and certified.
- The gauge should match the application’s needs. Don’t force thin cords to run heavy-duty appliances. They will overheat and ignite.
- Don’t hide the outdoor section of the cable beneath objects such as rugs to protect the extension cord from rain or sun. It will overheat and start a fire.
- If you expect the cable to cross the yard, keep it away from locations with heavy traffic. Otherwise, people will damage the line by walking over it. Lead the cord through the safest area you can find.
- Again, don’t use the extension cord permanently. Unless you have a flat cable, remove the extension daily before closing the window.
- Make sure the extension’s plug is firm in the outlet. A loose plug is a fire hazard.
- Don’t extend the extension’s reach by connecting it to a second extension. This is called daisy-chaining, and it starts fires because the practice increases the resistance.
- Don’t use cables with cracked insulation. You can cover superficial cuts and knicks with electrical tape. Severe damage should compel you to buy a replacement.
- Don’t staple the cable to the wall or floor. Nails are just as problematic. You will puncture the jacket.