Outlet starts having sparks

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by SBay_ecologist, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. Dec 11, 2011 #1

    SBay_ecologist

    SBay_ecologist

    SBay_ecologist

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    Hello All:

    A week ago I started smelling something burning when I use the microwave.

    Then my wife pointed out that sparks are coming out of the outlet.

    I opened the outlet out and filmed it. (See the following. "wmv" movie is a bit shorter. https://picasaweb.google.com/Keep.E...authkey=Gv1sRgCNuVvfjalNSFugE&feat=directlink )

    My questions are as follows:

    - Why all of a sudden this started happening?

    - Do microwaves start consuming more power as they get older? Could this be the reason for the sparks?

    - Would changing the outlet solve the problem?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dec 11, 2011 #2

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Turn the breaker off now, You have house fire looking for fuel. I think you just need a new outlet and clean out the box.
     
  3. Dec 11, 2011 #3

    JoeD

    JoeD

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    You have a loose connection. Turn off the breaker and replace the receptacle. You might need to cut a small amount of wire off to get a clean connection.

    DO NOT CONTINUE TO USE IT LIKE THIS.
     
  4. Dec 12, 2011 #4

    SBay_ecologist

    SBay_ecologist

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    How did this loose connection come about? I have been using this outlet for well over three years withou any problem.

    Thanks!
     
  5. Dec 12, 2011 #5

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    It's done what do you need to know? You want to check the wires, if you have aluminium you want to get an outlet that matches.
     
  6. Dec 12, 2011 #6

    JoeD

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    Heat. Once it is loose heat develops. When it heats it expands and contacts making it even looser.
     
  7. Dec 12, 2011 #7

    SBay_ecologist

    SBay_ecologist

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    The reason I want to know is to see if I can prevent this happening in the future.

    Regards
     
  8. Dec 12, 2011 #8

    SBay_ecologist

    SBay_ecologist

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    So, do I need to periodically open the outlets where there is high current draw and tighten the screws?

    Thanks
     
  9. Dec 12, 2011 #9

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I just wanted to make the point that it was dangerous, Perhaps when you have it out and tell us what you found, and someone can tell you what caused it. You do want to match it to the wire and don't buy the cheapest one.
     
  10. Dec 13, 2011 #10

    JoeD

    JoeD

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    It is possible it was never tighten properly when first installed.
     
  11. Dec 16, 2011 #11

    SBay_ecologist

    SBay_ecologist

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    Here is what I found out:

    • The three-prong outlet was put in place of a two-prong outlet, existence of proper grounding is unknown.
    • The connection on the right [see photos] was loose.
    • Sparks and overheating has melted and partially burned the plastic parts of the outlet [see photos].

    Photos are at: https://picasaweb.google.com/116812378183066102939/Spark_2?authkey=Gv1sRgCI728v3H9p3A7AE#

    Here is what I have done:

    • Replaced the three-prong outlet with a new one.
    • I cut back the bare copper a bit, and cleaned the oxidation/dark matter off.
    • As per one of the options on the outlet packaging, rather than wrapping the wire around the terminal screws, I just inserted the tip of the wires under the them. Tightened them well.

    I realize I need to check for proper grounding, that's for later. I have been following another post on replacing two-prong outlets with three-prong ones. Got some ideas from there...
     
  12. Dec 16, 2011 #12

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Pick up one of those testers you just plug in and it can tell if the gound is there and if you have there power wire to the correct screw.
     
  13. Dec 16, 2011 #13

    JoeD

    JoeD

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    If there is no ground present you should replace the receptacle with a GFCI version. That is the legal way to install three prong receptacles on ungrounded circuits.
     

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