Extension leads and cables with washing machines

Extension-cable You need to be careful when using extension leads and cables with washing machines. This advice also goes for dishwashers and tumble dryers. The reason that it is not ideal to plug a washing machine into an extension cable is because it introduces an extra risk of electrical overheating.

There is also an added danger that because these extension leads have multiple sockets it is very easy to dangerously overload one.

Miele for example specifically say in their washing machine instruction manual – “do not connect via an extension lead. Extension leads do not guarantee the required safety of the appliance (e.g. danger of overheating).

In reality, many washing machines, dishwashers & and tumble dryers are plugged into extension cables. But anyone deciding to do so should firstly use the right type of extension cable. You cannot use a 2 core extension cable which has no earth. If you do, although your machine will work, it is in a potentially lethal condition because it isn’t earthed – see getting electric shocks from an appliance

You should also try to buy good quality branded extension cable and avoid cheap ones with no recognisable brand name.

Only 13 Amp extension leads can be used

13 Amp fuse You must also ensure the cable is rated for 13 Amps. Some extension leads may have thinner cable than that of the washing machine. This is an indication that the cable may be meant for lawn mowers, lamps etc. and not white goods appliances.

If the cable is just as thick or thicker than that of your appliance then it should be 13 Amp and 3 core (with an earth lead) but don’t assume anything. Using a 5 or 10 Amp rated cable can cause overheating and is potentially dangerous.

Using cable that has no earth can kill if your appliance develops an insulation fault.

How many appliances can you plug in?

Overloaded-extension-cable Multiple socket extensions are very common these days. I remember when no one thought of inventing them and extension sockets just had one socket at the end. In those days people used to plug socket adaptors in the end to be able to plug more than one appliance in.

For example if you only plugged a washing machine and tumble dryer into a four socket extension and ran both appliances at the same time it would be dangerously overloaded and could start a fire. These days you can get extensions with 4 or 6 sockets. You can have something plugged into each one, but attention needs to be given to what is being plugged in and how much current it draws. As a rule of thumb, no two things that have heating elements inside them should be plugged into the same wall socket.

Retractable extension reels

Cable-extension-reel Extension cables that wind up must be fully unwound when in use.

This type of extension cable will have two ratings written on it in amps. One advises the maximum amps it can take when fully unwound, and the other (lower figure) is the maximum it can cope with when not fully unwound. Washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers can easily draw 10 amps alone so they need to be fully unwound or they can overheat and potentially cause a fire. Any extension cable should be rated for 13 amps.

What about wall socket adapters

Plug-adapters These old fashioned adapters are less needed these days but still in use, and still more appropriate for certain circumstances. They are always 13 amp so fine for appliances but as the white goods appliance we are talking about draw around 10 amps you can’t use another white goods appliance at the same time or it will overheat. A washing machine and a dishwasher or tumble dryer being used in the same adapter can be dangerous.

I’ve been told by a fireman that the fire brigade recommend you do not plug large appliances into double adapters because they often often don’t have good connections inside and can over heat. I’m sure they are likely to recommend not using extension leads too. Ideally, white goods appliances should be plugged directly into a wall socket.

Fishy smell from socket?

fishy-smell On two separate occasions I’ve noticed a strong fishy smell which I fortunately tracked down to faults on electrical sockets.

It seems that by either accident or design, when some wall sockets, adapters, or plugs and light fittings overheat they can give off a very strange smell, which is “fishy” in nature. If you ever smell a strange fishy smell don’t ignore it. Try to track its source because dangerous overheating could be taking place inside an electrical fitting. In my two cases, one was a faulty plug overheating in the wall socket in a kitchen cupboard and the other was an overheating light fitting.

Are You Overloading Your Sockets?

Electrical Safety First have a great tool which lets you drag appliances onto an extension socket to test if you are overloading them or not. Have a play here – Socket Overload Calculator

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6 thoughts on “Extension leads and cables with washing machines”

  1. I have recently purchased an 8 gang extension lead with individual switches.
    Now I wanted to know can I plug in my playstation, television, set top box, small fridge and hi fi into it. They say it has surge protection. So does that mean I can go over 13 amps?

  2. Surge protection just protects our appliances in the event of a surge in the electric supply from the electric company. It’s nothing to do with how much power is drawn by us. Make sure the appliances plugged in don’t go over 13 Amps combined. If you have a double wall socket you might be better plugging separate smaller extensions in as each socket in the wall should be able to handle up to 13 Amps.

  3. i’ve just bought a closed plug single electric oven but the only socket available is the one my washing machine is plugged into, would i be able to plug them both into a 13amp extension if they are used separate? the washing machine has an on/off switch and only on when in use and there isnt a digital display on the oven so im presuming that it wont draw power when not in use? any help appreciated thanks

  4. I have a freezer plugged into the wall but I’m wanting to get a condenser dryer which would also require the same socket to be used, is there any extension lead out there that I could use for both appliances to be used at the daft time without it causing a risk???

  5. All extension leads and sockets, no matter how many plugs they have can only have 13 amps drawn through them at the same time. If the wall socket is a twin socket then each socket can draw 13 amps so you should be OK. If it’s a single socket though and you plug in an extension socket it will cope with a maximum of 13 amps. If the condenser dryer is running it will use most of that. Unfortunately the Electrical Safety First tool at the bottom of my article doesn’t have any fridges or freezers as presumably they vary too much in what power they draw.

    The chances are the freezer would draw more than the the few amps left once the dryer is running unless it’s a very basic freezer with no auto defrost(auto defrost function usually uses a small heating element). The only way to work out how many amps the freezer would use is to check on its rating plate to see how many watts it uses and divide it by 240.

    So for example if an appliance says it uses 800 watts, that’s 800 divided by 240 which is 3.33 amps. If the dryer uses 2800 watts that’s 11.66 amps so in that case that uses most of the 13 amps and only leaves around 1.33 amps to be running at maximum allowed. If you can plug an extension cable into a different socket to run the freezer that might be best.

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