Can You Plug A Washing Machine Into An Extension Cord?

Can You Plug A Washing Machine Into An Extension Cord
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Upfront:

Do not plug a washing machine to an extension cord:

Because washing machine manufacturers says so

Because it can reduce it’s efficiency by increasing the workload of the electric cable supplying current to the washer

Because you run the risk of electric shock and washing machine fire outbreak, due to overload and overheating of electric cable.

Because every added connection is a potential point of failure

What does an extension cord do to a washing machine?

  1. It increases the length of the power socket, or rather it increases the distances current travels from the power source to the washing machine circuitry.
  2. It increases the possible connection points.

These 2 basic functions of a power extension cord are the very reasons why you should not plug a washing machine to it.

Does it sound confusing?

Well, not if you understand the basics of electricity and appliances usage.

As a quick answer to the title question:

While it is possible to connect a washing machine to an extension cord (in fact there are many of these extensions advertised on the internet), you are adviced against doing so. 

The following subtopic will discuss why you should not do so.

Let’s dive in!

Why you should not plug a washing machine to a power extension

  • Washing machine manufacturers says so
  • It can reduce washing machine efficiency by increasing the workload of the electric cable supplying current to the washer
  • You run the risk of electric shock and washing machine fire outbreak, due to overload and overheating of electric cable.
  • Every added connection is a potential point of failure

Washing machine manufacturers says so

Can You Plug A Washing Machine Into An Extension Cord

There is a fundamental rule in all manufactured products, and it says that you should always follow the manufacturers instructions.

The reason is simple: manufacturers knows how best to use their products.

But there is an added reason.

Items that are sold with waranty are sold on the condition that the user strictly follow the manucturers instructions.

Faults that develop from not following this instructions are not covered by these warranty.

A lot can be saved on waranties, because more often than not, your purchase price includes so warranty.

Plugging washing machines to extension cords, against manufacturers instructions, will void the warranty. 

Even when faults developed are not caused by the power extensions, knowledge of this violation can greatly jeopardize your possibility of a warranty cover.

Even when faults developed are not caused by the power extensions, knowledge of this violation can greatly jeopardize your possibility of a warranty cover.

It can reduce washing machine efficiency

Every washing machine has a stated rating. A power, current, voltage and frequency rating.

For an analysis of washing machine power and voltage rating, check out this article.

Plugging a washer to an extension cord increases the possibility of sharing the power and volt capacity of the washer with other appliances. 

These effectively reduces the resources alocated to the washing machine’s operation.

Also there is the resistance of electric wires. The simple rule is that the longer the wire, the greated the electrical resistance. When you extend the distance the current runs to get to the washer circuitary, you are inadvertently increasing the circuit’s resistance.

Greater resistance, in a circuit reduces the efficiency of the working circuit, or in this case the washing machine’s efficiency.

You run the risk of electric shock and washing machine fire outbreak

Can You Plug A Washing Machine Into An Extension Cord

This is probably the biggest reason why you should not connect a washing machine to an extension. Manufacturers warn that connecting a washing machine can lead to fire outbreak in the appliances. 

Often times, they are the direct result of electric wire overload and overheating, sparks from corroded extension connection points, etc.

For more information on washing machine fire, kindly read this article. But in simple terms, every wire supplying current in a house’s wiring, has a maximum workload it can carry at a given time.

Washing machines by default uses a large share of the total workload of the average electric wire used in a residential apartment.

On the otherhand, most extensions have multiple outlets. This increase the amount of applainces that can be connect to it at any given time.

While there is an increase in the amount of load that can be added to the outlet, there is no curresponding increase in the carrying capacity of the supplying wire.

Increased load leads to heat generated by the electric wire. When the heat goes beyound the tolerance level of the wire’s material, it heats up, burns the insulating wire coating. 

This can cause damage to the wire, its insulation and even result in a full fledge fire outbreak.

But that’s not all.

Water leakage is not an uncommon problem associated with washing machine usage.

Wall sockets are usually placed a couple feet from the floor. In the event of water leakage, they are far from possible contact with water and hence the chances of electric shock or even fire outbreak is greatly reduced.

This can not be said of extension sockets which are often placed on the floor.

Even the tiniest leakage cause water to enter the extension. This is a serious safety hazard as it can lead to life threatening electric shocks, especially to children and crawling babies.

Would you risk the health and life of yourself and your little ones just to connect an extension wire to your washing machine?

Every added connection is a potential point of failure

Can You Plug A Washing Machine Into An Extension Cord

For those with more technical background, here is an added reason not to connect your wshing machine to an extension socket.

Every added connection is an added point of failure.

Faults  and failures in electrical installations usually occur at connection points. When you connect your washing machine to a wall socket, you limit the potential point of failure to just 3 points:

  1. The source of the socket wire
  1. The socket outlet. And
  1. The point where the plug enters the washing machine.

Adding an extension cord only increases these points of failures, and creating multiple possibilities in the even of a failure.

This makes it extra difficult for a technician to troubleshoot the cause of any resulting problem.

After all said and done, there might be times using an extension might be the only way to connect your washer to your houses wiring.

In that case, what kind of extension cord should you use? And how should you go about connecting it to the washing machine.

Factors to consider when using an extension cord

As a reminder, you should avoid connecting a washing machine to extension cord by all means. But if using one is the only way out, here are factors you should consider when deciding what extension to use.

  1. It must be rated: Heavy Duty
  2. The shorter the length, the better
  3. It must be have a ground wire
  4. It must have a 13amp fuse
  5. Opt for PVC constructed cables
  6. Buy extension cables with the least socket holes as possible

It must be rated: Heavy Duty

Heavy duty extensions are built for work in the field. Plumbers and welders, for example, who work in building under construction and does not have the luxury of readily available wall sockets, use this to run heavy appliances.

As such these extensions are built to carry heavy equipment such as drilling machine. They are built to high demanding equipment and appliances.

Using this type of extension, as a last resort, to power your washing machine will eliminate some of the power concerns of using a washing machine on an extension.

Here are examples of heavy duty extension cord you can consider buying.

The shorter the length, the better

Generally speaking, extending the distance electric current travels before reaching an appliances reduces it’s effectiveness.

This is why most washing machines are built with relatively shorter power cord. This is a purposeful design technique. By using extension wires, you’re reintroducing the same problems manufacturers tried to avoid during production.

With this simplified knowledge in mind, if you decide to use an extension, opt for those with shorter cords. Less than 10feet is preferable.

Use the least length needed for your particular situation. 

If for example your washing machine is 4 feet farther than the nearest wall socket, go for an extension cord of no more than 5 feet cord length.

This reduces the extra distance current have to run to reach the appliance. Remember, the longer the cord, the greater the wire’s resistance.

The shorter the extension wire, the better.

It must be have a ground wire

Ground wires in a washing machine are important to the health of the appliance and for safety. Without this, you run the risk of electrocution and fire. This is how important earthing is to a washing machine.

When purchasing an extension cord, ensure it is fitted with a 3-pronged plug. The simple formular is any plug without a 3 wire connected, or with a 2 pin plug does not have an earth or ground wire.

Even when the washer is fitted with a ground wire, and the wall socket has a well installed earth cable, if the extension does not have one, the washing machine will be automatically disconnected from the apartment’s earthing system.

Therefore, watch carefully the extension wire and plug. If it does not have a third wire running to the plug, do not use it. It is a danger sign.

For more information of how important earthing is to washing machines, kindly check out this other article.

It must have a 13amp fuse

Many washing machines are rated 10amps. This means that once you plug a washing machine to a socket, it easily uses up 10 amps to current.

Therefore, it is important to use extensions with plug rated 13amps. This is important for safety. Using plugs with higher rating increases the chance of the appliances getting damaged by high current and power surge.

On the otherhand, using something smaller means you stand the risk of getting your extension blownup simply by running your washing machine.

Opt for PVC constructed cables

You might not be a technician or be technically inclined. But know this fact. PVC is a higher heat resistance material to conventional plastic.

PCV stands for Polyvinyl Chloride

Most heavy duty cables are constructed with PVC material.

According to pvc.org, PVC is strong, durable and safe. 

When buying extension sockets, opt for one built with pvc plastic. It will be clearly stated in the product description or on the lable attached to the extension.

Buy extension cables with the least socket holes as possible

Remember that one major disadvantage of using socket extensions is the chances of overloading the socket. 

If you choose to buy one, opt for those with single socket outlet. 

If this is not easily available, ensure the one bought is for the dedicated use of the washer.

Do not plug any other appliance to it, not even charging of phones on it.

Tag it with a label stating that nothing should be connected to it other than the washing machine. This will help if the washing machine is installed where others can have access to the extension.

Children should be educated on why no other appliance or equipment, other than the washing machine, should be plugged on the socket.

Always monitor it for possible violation of the stated guideline.

Conclusion

This article is written with the everyday, ordinary user in mind. Hence I’ve cut out most of the technical jargons, and stuck to more down-to-earth terms.

As a summary, know that washing machines should not be plugged to extension plugs. Avoid it like the plague. 

Sometimes it might mean an added inconvenience. But any inconvenience faced is worth the added safety. 

In the event that using an extension cord is the only viable option, carefully select the extension wires you buy. 

Not just any wire will do. 

Choose carefully.

Carefully review the points in the previous heading.

Jot down the factors to consider when buying an extension socket for your washing machine.

Note that they are not an exhaustive list of every important factor to consider.

Preferable, discuss with a technician, or the washing machine machine manufacturers or supplying for deciding to buy an extension. 

If you face the challange of distance to a wall socket, a technician should first attempt to solve this issue. 

Sometimes if might mean installing an added socket close to the washer.

Extension cords should be used as a last resort.

If at this point, you have forgotten some points mentioned earlier in this article, kindly pause here, go back up and do a run through of the article.

In fact, for your sake, I’m bringing this article to an end.

We stop here!!!

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