When Should You Replace Your Power Cables?

Power cords are an integral part of our home entertainment systems, and at this point, our daily lives. Power cables are scattered all over our homes, powering our devices every single day. What we don’t usually think about is that over time, they can become worn out or damaged. It’s important to check your power cords every once in a while to make sure they're still in good shape. 


If your power cables are getting old, how do you know when to replace them? If the cable still works, does it really need to be replaced? What if I just keep using it?


Damaged Power Cables Can Be Dangerous


There are many reasons why you should replace worn out power cables. When your power cords are damaged, the wires inside that are transferring the power signal may become exposed. Exposed electrical wires pose a risk of fire and can harm you or others; it’s actually important for your own safety that you keep your cables in good condition.


Damaged cables can also damage your electronics. A broken cord can create a short circuit, which leads to an uncontrolled flow of electricity. This excess electricity can cause your devices to overheat. When your equipment overheats, it can damage some internal components, especially the battery, and in extreme cases, this can start a fire. A short circuit also runs the risk of damaging other fragile components in your devices that aren’t meant to be exposed to electrical signals. This can cause potentially irreparable damage to some devices. 


So, it’s actually very important that you replace your power cables when they're damaged. But how do you know when a cable needs to be replaced?


How to Tell When Your Power Cables Need Replacing


Firstly, you should check your cords regularly so you notice when something is awry. It’s easy to forget about all those power cables hidden behind the TV or other furniture, so it might be a good idea to set a reminder every few months to inspect your cables


If you see…

  • Cuts or cracks in the insulation, this is a sign that the cord is wearing out and the wire underneath may be exposed
  • Any charring or brown or black residue on the cable, this is a sign that the insulation has burned away
  • Fraying, this means the protective sheath around the wire is wearing out, and this cable could cause overheating


Cables with any of these problems really should be replaced right away. While they may still work, electrical circuits aren’t totally predictable, so you shouldn’t trust a broken cable. Additionally, when cables get old, they can also become less effective at transferring electricity. If you really want to make sure your cables are performing at their best, you can use a cable testing tool to check the amperage. If the amperage isn't what it used to be, you should probably replace it, to ensure that your devices are properly powered. On a similar note, if you notice one of your devices isn't working properly or is charging slowly, try replacing the power cord –  that may solve the issue.


If you find that your cables wear out quickly, try getting a higher quality cable with strong insulation that won't tear easily. This is especially true for cables that you bend a lot or are squeezed into tight spaces. Keep you and your electronics safe, and use good power cables!