There you are shopping in your favorite thrift store looking for great vintage items. A lamp catches your eye. It is attractive and the wiring looks safe and relatively new.
You take it home and use it, and as soon as you plug it in and turn it on…sparks fly. You are lucky if you don’t get burned and/or end up burning out the wiring in other parts of your house.
Incidents like this can be avoided if you know how to check your lamp to see if it’s safe before plugging in. Here are some steps you can take.
Does a UL Seal Mean Anything?
How Do I Know if a Vintage Electric Lamp is Safe? A UL seal means a product has been tested and confirmed to be up to safety and sustainability standards. However, UL has been around for over 100 years and the seal will only mean it was safe at the time it was tested. Do not take the seal as a sign that the lamp is safe.
Inspect the Socket of your Vintage Electric Lamp
The socket of the vintage electric lamp should be insulated, and it should be seated properly. You can compare it to photos on the internet to see if it looks like something that was made this century.
Look at the Plug of your Vintage Electric Lamp
You will want to check the plug to see if it is polarized. This means that the plug has both neutral and hot wires and a flow that directs the current through the system.
Older plugs have two prongs that are the same size. These are not polarized.
Newer plugs have one blade that is slightly wider and will only work in modern outlets. This ensures that the smaller blade will go into the hot side of the outlet while the wider blade goes into the neutral.
If your plug is not polarized, not only does it mean it might not be safe, it means it may not even work in your outlets.
Look at the Cord of your Vintage Electric Lamp
The cord of your vintage electric lamp should be in good condition. It should not be frayed or broken. It should also be pliable and flexible. If it feels brittle, it means fraying is not far away.
Things to Consider about your Vintage Electric Lamp
When you buy a vintage electric lamp, you are taking a chance. If you are skilled, you may consider checking out the wiring yourself, but you want to make sure that is repaired safely so you don’t encounter safety hazards.
It may be best to have the lamp checked out by a professional before you use it in your home. Keep in mind that this will add to the expense of the lamp, but it may be worth it to have a beautiful piece in your home that you can count on to work safely.
What do you recommend owners do after they buy a vintage electric lamp to make sure no hazards occur in their home?