Is It Time to Ditch Your Damaged Chargers?
By Victoria Figueiredo
We’re all guilty of seeing our phone chargers start to peel, fray, or become exposed and continuing to use them to charge our devices anyway. Maybe you just keep forgetting to buy a new one, or you think there’s no harm in going a few more weeks before you bite the bullet and order one online. Unfortunately, as common as all this is, there’s really no excuse for knowingly allowing a fire hazard into your home day after day.
Sound a little too severe? We’ll qualify that statement by allowing for the fact that your cables don’t go from perfectly fine to pyro overnight. Chargers definitely have a finite lifespan, so the questions we should be asking here are “When do I know when to toss my charger and get a new one? When is it actually dangerous to keep charging my stuff with it?” Friends, allow us to shed some light on the mystery.
If your charger is fresh out of the box, use it as much as you want. When it starts to bend, bunch up, or pinch around the ends, you’re still safe to use it as long as you’re keeping a close eye on any further damage. If the cable starts to split, you may be able to repair the damage (short-term, not forever) with electrical tape or one of the many charger hacks you can find online. Anything beyond minor cracking (think fraying, exposed insulation, exposed inner wiring) is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately! We can’t in good conscience tell you that it’s fine to keep cables plugged in when they’re in that state. Truth is, they’re a clear fire hazard and pose a threat to you, your family and pets, or whoever’s around when you’re charging up. The best solution is to start looking for a good deal on chargers once you see bending or cracking and be prepared to buy a new one the same day you see any fraying. As much as it may suck to spend anywhere between $10 to $30 on a new charger, you’ll be doing the responsible thing.
Trying to pre-empt any damage? There are definitely things you can do to prolong the lifespan of all your chargers! The first thing you should do (that many people don’t do because doing whatever you want is usually easier than remembering to do something specific) is remove the charger from your device, the wall, or the adapter by gripping the connector head, NOT by yanking on the cable itself! This will help keep the outer layer from giving out before it absolutely needs to. Once your cable is detached from your phone and the wall, make sure you wrap it gently instead of balling it up to throw in your bag or car. This keep the inner wires from bending in ways they’re not supposed to, and keeps your charger healthy. You may also want to consider preemptively adding support to your charger where it experiences the most stress. Think: where the cable meets the adapter, where the USB end meets the charging port, etc.
Ultimately, how you go about keeping your chargers whole and safe to use depends on your lifestyle and how you use your equipment! The main thing to remember is it’s time to ditch your cables when you can see what’s living inside of the outer layer. Need help determining what’s safe? Reach out to the internet! The resources are endless when it comes to charger hacks and info!