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How Long Do Extension Cords Last? When to Replace?

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how long do extension cords last

Extension cords are one of the most common household equipment. They are a convenient solution to deliver electricity in areas of the house without nearby outlets. Yet, one question that often arises about this product is, “How long do extension cords last?”

Extension cords are typically rated for 15 years. However, depending on several factors, this lifespan may increase or even decrease. For further explanation, let us talk about it below.

What is the Lifespan of Extension Cords?


Extension cords are a piece of equipment that can be used for a variety of applications. It can be used to power up some power tools, increase the reach of an electrical outlet, or even charge numerous gadgets at once.

It’s hard to imagine that even heavy-duty extension cords can wear out over time. Their age, indeed, has a significant impact on their deterioration.

According to UL standards, a high-quality extension cord can last up to 15 years. However, this does not guarantee that it will reach this age. This also does not imply that the cable will be broken and replaced when the said time arrives.

Aside from an old extension cord, a few other factors may influence and contribute to these cables’ lifespan. Here they are.

Factors that Might Affect the Extension Cord Lifespan

1. Quality of Extension Cord


When it comes to extension cord longevity, quality matters a lot. Heavy-duty extension cords, on average, use higher-quality materials than light-duty ones. As a result, heavy-duty extension cords typically last for many years before being naturally damaged.

2. Extension Cords Usage

The frequent use of an extension cord is another aspect that influences its lifespan. This means that the more you use your cable, the quicker it will wear out or the more likely you can have damaged extension cords.

3. Where You Use the Extension Cord


The environment in which you use your extension cables can also have an impact on their lifespan. In most cases, conventional extension cords are not allowed to be used outside, since they are easily damaged by extreme weather conditions such as direct sunlight and rain.

If you use a cable outdoors, it must be waterproof and designed for such a purpose.

4. Device Connected to Extension Cord

Finally, an extension cord is a tool that can easily get overloaded, reducing its longevity. This can happen if you plug in high-powered equipment or many appliances that exceed their current ratings.

How to Know if I Need to Replace Extension Cords?


Using a damaged extension cord creates a safety hazard that can potentially lead to fires and electrical shocks. To have an idea of when to replace your extension cable, you can inspect an extension cord and look for signs such as the following.

  • Its insulation has a crack or damage, as well as melted and discolored insulation.
  • A loose and damaged connector
  • The cord becomes very hot when in use.
  • The cord length is insufficient for the application.
  • The cord rating is insufficient for the device you require.

Why Do Extension Cords Go Bad?


Extension cords do not actually have an expiration. However, they can go bad due to several reasons, mainly improper usage.

Overloading is one of the most common causes of extension cord damage. This is the result of plugging in a gadget that requires more power than the cord’s rating. In this instance, the wire and its insulation could be destroyed, perhaps resulting in a fire or electrocution.

Another cause of bad extension cord is excessive and incorrect use, which can result in physical damage. Using the cable where people can step on it or stapling the cord to the wall can cause the extension to fail.

Safety Tips to Make Extension Cords Last Longer


Having a safety extension cord will benefit you with a safe working environment and keep the cord last longer. Here are some tips to maintain and use an extension.

  • Use three-prong plugs with three-slot outlets.
  • Follow extension cord rules such as not hiding, covering, or using it in place of permanent outlets.
  • Always store your extension cord after every use.
  • Avoid pulling the cord to disconnect it.
  • Do not daisy chain extension cables.


Knowing how long do extension cords last based on various factors may help you realize that you should take better care of them. Furthermore, it may tell you when to replace your extension cable.

Remember that changing an old extension cord is not always necessary. Sometimes all you need to do is replace extension cord plug or any damaged section to keep using it. If you are not knowledgeable about electricals, it would be best to hire an expert to repair the cable or replace it with a new one.

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