Why damaged electrical cables need to be replaced

Why damaged electrical cables need to be replaced

Electrical cords, cables, wires and flexes can all get damaged over time. Damaged cords not only look unsightly, but are dangerous too.

Why do electrical cords and cables get damaged?

  • Excessive temperatures: Excessive cold, heat, pressure, and moisture will cause a cord to get damaged more quickly
  • Animals and pests: Domestic and wild animals can mistake a cord for food and try and chew through it
  • Contractor/DIY damage: A contractor or enthusiastic DIY-er can accidentally drill through or snag a cord when carrying out maintenance or installation work
  • Day-to-day wear and tear: Regular tugging, pulling, and friction mean that all cords will eventually degrade
  • Internal damage: Damaged wires can cause overheating, which can cause a cord to melt or warp
  • Overloading: A too-high electrical load (for example, in an extension lead) can cause the plastic sheath to melt

Why are damaged cables and cables that are worn away dangerous?

Most modern cord/cable sheaths are coated with PVC or cotton. These materials are non-conductive which means that electricity can flow through them safely. If a cord is frayed, damaged, or worn away then the wires inside are exposed. This means you are more likely to come into contact with the wires, which can cause an electric shock.

Would a damaged cable fail a PAT test?

Yes. As part of the PAT test, a visual inspection takes place where the engineer checks the equipment, plug, and cable for signs of damage. If one of our engineers identifies a damaged cord during testing, the appliance will fail the inspection and be removed from service.

What do I do if have a damaged cord?

We recommend that you quickly check any electrical cords before using them. If they are damaged in any way or feel warm to the touch, they should not be used. When you look, check for:
  • Tears
  • Cracking
  • Bulges
  • Abrasions
  • Fraying
  • Exposed wires
  • Melted plastic
  • Burn marks
The best course of action if the cord is damaged is to replace it entirely. If the appliance is old and/or cheap, it may be easier and more cost-effective to replace the whole appliance. Disclaimer: If you have a damaged cord, we strongly advise that it is replaced by a qualified electrician.

How can I extend the life of my electrical cord?

  • Don’t run cords under carpets or rugs. People stepping on them can cause the wires to compress. If you have to run a cord across an area, use a protector strip
  • Take care when carrying out DIY projects. A stud detector can help identify wires in walls
  • Keep appliances away from sources of heat and water
  • Keep the cord away from the appliance when it is running. For example, if you are using a vacuum cleaner, don’t let the vacuum run over the cord as this will damage it
  • Don’t wrap cords around an appliance when storing it. This can cause damage
  • When using an appliance, extension reel or extension lead, make sure the cord is unwound and detangled to prevent overheating

We’re the UKs Number 1  trusted voice of experience in the industry, who are regularly consulted to give our expert opinions with industry governing bodies.

Through our national network of fully certified engineers, Hawkesworth provide a range of technical compliance and testing services to ensure you’re not at risk – we’ve got you covered!

From your Electrical Installation and Portable Appliances with EICRPAT and Thermographic surveys to Fire Safety with Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Alarm Testing and Emergency Lighting.

Get in touch and see how we can help you