Overloading Sockets – Tricks and Tips

What are the risks from overloading a socket?

Well, for a start, it’s dangerous, and can cause fires – and is therefore extremely harmful to one’s health, even fatal. Overloading sockets can destroy homes and a lifetime’s possessions; causes financial hardship, incurred costs and disrupts lives.


The simple act of overloading a socket can be costly, and yet can so easily be avoided. Many lives and even more injuries can be prevented by the simplest of precautions.
There are 20,000 fires reported in a home each year in the UK. Fires that claim the lives of between 60 to 70 people, and a further quarter of a million injured.

Modern homes today have dozens of appliances – all potential hazards if not used properly, maintained and tested from time to time. The problems/accidents often arise when these – otherwise completely safe – appliances are linked together and overload a socket, which causes many household fires.

So we need to take precautions, understand a little of what we can and cannot do, what is safe…and what is putting our lives at risk.  Listed below are a few tips to help you and your possessions stay safe.

Top tips to avoid fire risk by overloading a socket or plug

Fires relating to overloading of damaged and defective appliances and fittings are common causes of fire in a home – note the following;

  • Don’t overload sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating.
  • Be vigilant, checked regularly for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as hot plugs and sockets. A clear sign that something is wrong is having fuses that blow often or circuit breakers that continually trip for no apparent reason.
  • High powered appliances, such as washing machines and driers, should ideally have a single socket to themselves because of the high power consumption.
  • Different appliances use different amounts of power – a television, eg, may use a 3amp plug, whereas a vacuum cleaner might take 5amp plug.
  • Extension leads and plug adaptors are a great help. They do however have a limit to the number of amps they can take, so don´t overload them as doing so increases the risk of fire.
  • Always check the current rating of an extension lead before use and plugging in appliances. Most extension leads today are rated at 13 A, but check before buying because some are rated at only 10 A or even less in some cases – never buy an extension lead unless the rating is clearly marked by the manufacturer. With that in mind – never overload an extension lead by using a number of appliances that together exceed the maximum current rating stated for that particular extension lead. Doing so could cause the plug and wall socket to overheat and possibly start a fire.

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