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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
note: posted this on another forum: they said the screw must have been loose on the neutral side to build up heat like that on the neutral side.



I put in a TV & stereo, and put in new power outlets behind the TV, and in the Linen closet.


I just tied into a AC wire in the attic that appeared to only have the hall light and attic light on it. I checked it by turning the breaker off, and seeing what loads were turned off.



power runs down from the breaker box out in the garage, under the house, and up the wall. Inside the wall, it ran THROUGH the receptacle: power came in on the bottom terminal screw, and out the top terminal screw.


It looks like the receptacle overheated internally, and melted.


We finally found it by seeing the stain going up the wall


All the pics:
http://s19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...ceptacle_fire/














 

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Whoops.
 

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In hindsight Pig-tailing would have been the preferred wiring technique for this application and it is unlikely that this would have happened. Although I would have done it just like you did. The piece of metal connecting the lower and top screws may have been smaller than specification or had some kind of defect like a partial break and the load simply overheated that little connection point.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm /forum/post/19600433


Odds are that the receptacle is not the culprit...



Given that it appears that the side not burned has both a black and a white wire you might be right. The colors should match, they should both should be black. Whoever wired this outlet did it improperly and it is such a fundamental issue that if this is how the house came originally ALL the outlets and receptacles in the house should be pulled and examined. I'm surprised the breaker didn't kick. Which raises concerns of whether the breaker box is correctly wired.


The OP should also invest in a $4 outlet tester and test all the outlets for proper wiring.




If you would have tested the new outlets you hooked up it probably would have indicated that the hot and neutral wires were switched if they were downstream from the burnt outlet. I test every outlet I install.
 

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Quote:
I just tied into a AC wire in the attic that appeared to only have the hall light and attic light on it

What's not clear is "a AC wire." Do you mean alternating current or air conditioner (even if it "appeared to only have the hall light and attic light on it")? If air conditioner it may be a 20amp breaker with 15amp wiring.

Quote:
power runs down from the breaker box out in the garage, under the house, and up the wall.

Something else to check.....

My in-laws had a problem a few years ago with the feed from the pole that ran to the house and then down the outside wall not being secured tight to the house. Over time, the wind and a long tree branch moving the wire rubbed insulation off and the lights would dim when the wind blew. I would carefully check that outside wiring.
 

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Pigtailing only minimizes the risk of possibly having a loose connection by having 2 wires instead of 4 wires running to the recepticle screws. Making sure all the screws are tight, especially on the neutrals would have prevented this.
 

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And the recepticle screws look like over sized pan head screws; not the correct screws that come with recepticles so maybe this outlet had issues to begin with staying firmly in the box.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC /forum/post/19600516




Given that it appears that the side not burned has both a black and a white wire you might be right. . . . .


I dont' see it. On the non-burned side, I see two black wires. Not a black and white. Now, one of the black wires is coated with mud, or paint, but I'm pretty sure that won't change it from 110 to neutral.
 

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When the painters come in to prime and spray paint in new construction, if it ain't movin', it's gettin' painted.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craash /forum/post/19603747


I dont' see it. On the non-burned side, I see two black wires. Not a black and white. Now, one of the black wires is coated with mud, or paint, but I'm pretty sure that won't change it from 110 to neutral.

You may be right but if you look closely at the top of the box you can see what appears to be the now disconnected wire and it appears to be yet another common not a neutral but it may just be black from soot at this point, which would be a complete mess in that there receptacle area.
 

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This begs the question - how much torque should the screws be tightened too?


Snug? Snug and then a bit more?


I was replacing some of my old outlets the other day and found one where the ground wire wasn't properly twisted into the bundle of other grounds passing through the box. It was like that for 30 years
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
you have to go look at this pic.


the neutrals on a receptacle go on the same side that the ground goes to , in case the bare ground gets near the screw terminals.


by AC i meant Alternating Current...HVAC is Air conditioning to me.

anyways, i doubt that anyone would have thought to check for loose screws on a receptacle.


the BEST way would have been to run a NEW wire from the breaker box, to a breaker box in the attic, and then had 2 breakers, one to TV, and one to Stereo cabinet.


 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javatime /forum/post/19602152


Pigtailing only minimizes the risk of possibly having a loose connection by having 2 wires instead of 4 wires running to the recepticle screws. Making sure all the screws are tight, especially on the neutrals would have prevented this.

Pig-tailing takes the device (receptacle) out of the current path for the downstream devices. By using the receptacle to join the incoming and outgoing circuits, it's carrying the current of all the downstream devices thru it. Given that most of the damage seemed to have occurred right around the side screws, I'm wondering if the little jumper (that can be removed to split the outlets) may have been compromised, turning it into a high resistance point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisd /forum/post/19606247


I'm wondering if the little jumper (that can be removed to split the outlets) may have been compromised, turning it into a high resistance point.

aka / dba: "fuse, smoldering, one each"
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC /forum/post/19599818


The piece of metal connecting the lower and top screws may have been smaller than specification or had some kind of defect like a partial break and the load simply overheated that little connection point.

I agree with TravisD


I'm going back to my earlier theory.
 
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