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Old 12th October 2013, 01:21 AM   #1
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Default Learned something about home electricals and high draw appliances...

This was the result of running a breadmaker a second go round. It WAS NOT plugged into this outlet, this outlet was just in the same circuit. Definitely has me thinking of having a dedicated circuit put in for sound system.

The bread machine started to act funny and stopped running. I could smell burning plastic, and figured my breaddmaker shot craps. Unplugged it and
set it on a table out on the porch. I kept smelling the burnt plastic smell, and walking through the living room I saw smoke in the air, as if someone had smoked a cigarette in there. Then I saw the plug. Obviously, the face plate has been replace in this pic (to keep curious puddy cats out). shots of the burned cover and roasted plug also.

When the electrician was explaining what happened, I learned something about home electricals. My house was constructed around vietnam wartime, and with copper going to the war effort, much of the romex used at the time is aluminum. In and of itself not necessarily bad, if proper installation is followed TO THE LETTER. This plug was not. They failed to put copperpig tails to the outlet. Scary part is, this wasnt even in the room I was in, and nothing was plugged in here, this was just the weak spot. If you remove the cover to your outlet and see silver colored wire going to the socket instead of copper, call an electrician! Makes you wonder about those Krells that draw 1400 watts from the wall...

Russellc
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Last edited by Russellc; 12th October 2013 at 01:24 AM.
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Old 12th October 2013, 01:37 AM   #2
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Clearly a terrible event and glad you're ok but what was the cause of the receptacle burning out? What could it be about aluminum wire that could cause this?
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Old 12th October 2013, 01:46 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by pcb121055 View Post
Clearly a terrible event and glad you're ok but what was the cause of the receptacle burning out? What could it be about aluminum wire that could cause this?
The electrician explained it twice and it made no sense to me. Apparently, you have to take these juntion box things that attach to the ends of the aluminum wire, and attach copper pigtails to the other end, and the copper tails then connect to the socket. He also explained that this one not only didnt do that, but was likely a little "shorty" to boot. When the load got high, this was the weak spot. He said either you have to find aluminum spec sockets, which I guess are rare these days, or use the copper pig tails. I couldnt understand why a couple of inches of copper wire would make a difference, but this guy knows his stuff and assured me it did. I'm going through the house now checking and repairing them. I found another, half copper, half aluminum.
Obviously, some one upgraded a two outlet socket to a 4 outlet socket, but only used copper tails to connect the additional socket, instead of copper on all four. Plus, it was a little loose, so when you plugged unplugged things it wiggles the whole box, which will slowly work the wiring loose makeing another weak spot. That is now fixed too! It has also made me map the electrical, outlets switches everything
as this plug was the only one in the living room on this socket.

Russellc
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Last edited by Russellc; 12th October 2013 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 12th October 2013, 01:48 AM   #4
6L6 is offline 6L6  United States
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Wholly crawap!

I'm very relieved that it didn't propagate into something much worse.
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Old 12th October 2013, 01:52 AM   #5
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Another frightening aspect is, I reload ammo and have thousands of primers and at least 10 lbs of smokeless powder upstairs....moved that out as well.

Russellc
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Old 12th October 2013, 01:53 AM   #6
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Aluminum isn't as conductive as copper and so heats up more. The receptacle was along the circuit being used, and probably had a defective connection or nick in the wire that created further heating. With more heating, there may be more expansion & contraction of the aluminum wire, hence the copper pigtails to the inside of the utility box. AFAIK, aluminum is no longer code-approved for home wiring.
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Old 12th October 2013, 01:57 AM   #7
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Wholly crawap!

I'm very relieved that it didn't propagate into something much worse.
Yes, I used to not think a thing of leaving the water distiller running while away or asleep...not anymore. Glad I didnt run to the grocery store or anything...although it was over by the time I discovered it, I only saw the aftermath as I was in a whole different room. That is why I want to map the whole house, so I know where every thing electrical is and where it goes. This circuit had this plug and overhead lights in the kitchen, a small bathroom in the hall, and this sole socket around the corner in the living room.

Russellc
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Old 12th October 2013, 02:00 AM   #8
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Aluminum isn't as conductive as copper and so heats up more. The receptacle was along the circuit being used, and probably had a defective connection or nick in the wire that created further heating. With more heating, there may be more expansion & contraction of the aluminum wire, hence the copper pigtails to the inside of the utility box. AFAIK, aluminum is no longer code-approved for home wiring.
This is exactly what he was explaining to me, you are right on. I would like to rewire, but that will be 7 grand, more than I have right now. He told me it is fine, but code has to be followed exactly. People (like myself) who dont have a clue dont know this, they just figure you hook it up like anything else and its good....NOT!

Russellc
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Last edited by Russellc; 12th October 2013 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 12th October 2013, 02:18 AM   #9
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Your wiring is probably grandfathered, but it seems odd to me to have a circuit spread across kitchen, bathroom, and living room (I'm not an electrician). It's a good idea to go around and check things, even adding those 12AWG copper pigtails. Glad to see the damage was confined; it could have been worse.
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Old 12th October 2013, 03:50 AM   #10
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i was taught when i was an electrician apprentance that the allinuim wires crack and cause weak points that have higher resistance thus heat and fire. i was told that the only place legal to use allinuim wire was in free air like a line drop to a weather head.
your house is grandfathered in. however any changes has to be up to NEC standards.
the pigtails will prevent further movement and cracking of the wire.
i wouldnt loose sleep over it but please check your smoke detectors.

now all that said..... explane to me why it is not ok for the craftsmen to use that type of wire but, every underground, overhead service wire i was ever involved in from T.U. (texas utility) was allinium?
from 200A-thousands of amps, like the main service for rigmar mall, in size from #2-650mcm all allinium
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