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Overloaded = Over heating = Fire

The extension lead and block is something that we all take for granted. In the last year we've tested well over 5000 of them. If the wall socket is too far away, the extension is the first thing we reach for.

We plug our hoovers, our laptops, fridges, washing machines and many more appliances into them, but this could cause the plug in the wall socket to overheat and possibly cause a fire. So, do we know when we've plugged in too much and what the risk is?

Most extensions are rated at 13A/3120W. This rating is the maximum amount the extension lead can safely handle. Just because there is 4 sockets does not mean that it is safe to plug something in to all 4 of them.

In a recent job we found 2 kettles, a microwave, a sandwich toaster and a stereo plugged in to an extension lead. The kettles were rated at 2200W each, the microwave at 700W, the sandwich maker was 50W and the stereo was 25W. The total was 5175W putting it over 2000W over the maximum capacity of the extension lead. The cable itself had started to melt due to the heat created by the power.

Thinking about what we have in our lounge personally plugged in to an extension lead. We have a TV, skybox, a DVD player and a hifi plugged in to a single extension lead. The total combination is roughly 700W.

An extension should only ever be used as a temporary measure and should be run out of walkways and out of reach of children.


So, here's a few safety points to help keep you safe.


Check the current rating of the extension lead before you use it. Although most are rated 13A, however there are some rated at a lower ampage such as 10A, 5A and 3A. The rating should be marked clearly on the back of the extension or in the manufacturer’s instructions.


Ensure your extension has the BS standards stamp on the back.


Never use an extension lead when there is a socket close by.


Never plug in items that together will exceed the maximum current rating stated for the extension lead thus overloading it.


Always fully unwind the extension and never use one thats too long.


Never daisy chain extensions.


Consult a qualified electrician to have sockets installed or moved so that you can remove the use for extensions.


Check your items and extensions regularly and switch them off if you have any of the following issues.

A burning of hot plastic smell,

Sparks or smoke coming from a plug or appliance

Any discolouration around a socket or plug, or on an appliance

Any damaged or frayed leads

If any of the coloured wires from inside the lead showing

Any melted plastic on plugs, leads or appliances

If fuses blow or if your electric suddenly trips with no obvious reason


If you are unsure of anything or would like further advice then give our team a call on 01792 805011.




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