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Glad I was home

  1. Jul 22, 2008 #1

    turbo

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    Glad I was home!!!

    This afternoon, I was in the kitchen cleaning blueberries when the air conditioner and refrigerator both quit at once. I checked the breakers, and couldn't find a tripped one, nor would those appliances power up. I got out my DMM and checked outlets - there was power to every outlet in the kitchen except the outlet feeding those two appliances. Then I started to check the outlet over the kitchen stove and sparks and flames shot out of the outlet. I only had gotten one probe into the neutral slot - I hadn't probed the hot slot yet. I ran out to the panel, shut off the breakers to the kitchen outlets, grabbed a screwdriver and took off the trim plate only to see a very badly burned outlet-box with scorched, damaged wires. This was a problem more complex than a simple outlet replacement, so I called my electrician brother-in-law and he came right over and helped me sort out the problem. If I hadn't been home AND paying attention to details, the place could have burned down. As it is, we have a little burned wallpaper and an increased wariness about poor connections in our outlets. I'm going to have to check the connections at our outlets for integrity.
     
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  3. Jul 22, 2008 #2

    lisab

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Whew, that could have been really bad - good thing you caught it. Check your smoke alarms!
     
  4. Jul 22, 2008 #3

    Borek

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Do I remember correctly that you live in a log cabin? Like all smart Mainers? :wink:

    Glad nothing bad happened.
     
  5. Jul 22, 2008 #4

    wolram

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    That must have been lucky for people for miles around, a fire in the Turbo kitchen could have caused a county wide shut down and the use of several hazmat teams.
     
  6. Jul 22, 2008 #5
    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Whew! What could cause the outlet to go bad? Was it a wiring problem?
     
  7. Jul 22, 2008 #6
    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    I had that happen once before... :surprised Thankfully I was home, too!

    Glad you got it taken care of, that beautiful garden isn't worth as much without a house full of people to eat the bounty...
     
  8. Jul 22, 2008 #7

    lisab

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    :rofl: Like a capsaicin factory burning down!
     
  9. Jul 22, 2008 #8

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    A connection that got either loose or perhaps corroded and allowed arcing.
     
  10. Jul 22, 2008 #9

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Yep! Log cabin. It is probably time to survey and possibly upgrade the wiring - the place was built some time ago and some outlets are polarized but not grounded. Unfortunately, the outlet with the problems was a relatively modern receptacle that is grounded, and my false sense of security regarding upgraded receptacles is now dashed.
     
  11. Jul 22, 2008 #10
    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    I had a wire in the meter base burn up and lost current to half the house one time. The electrician that fixed it, said that the wires in the meter base and all the wire connections in the circuit breaker box should be tightened down every 10 years, due to the alternating currents vibrating the wires and the connections. Once they get a little loose, arcing can happen. He also said that about every 15 to 20 years every screw should be tightened up--that includes all the outlet boxes.

    you did get lucky being there, turbo
     
  12. Jul 22, 2008 #11

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    OK, you two. :devil:

    The fire-fighters have air-packs and would not have been in too much pain and neighbors can always be evacuated to a safe distance. I would not have wanted to be around when my cupboards and pantry full of hot stuff started burning with exploding jars of habanero relish joining the mix. Just simmering the stuff prior to canning requires opened windows and fans unless you're really used to the effects. If the cops want to pepper-spray me some day (I'm never that bad!) they'll probably have to squirt me in the eyes - I think I've managed to get about every other type of capsaicin accidentally over the years, and I'm getting used to it. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Jul 22, 2008 #12

    Moonbear

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Did you have both an A/C and fridge on the same circuit? Maybe it was overloaded when both came on together? Better check that the circuit can handle the load of both starting up together.

    And yes, VERY lucky you were right there when it happened and noticed something wrong before it got bad. We had an outlet in my parent's kitchen do something similar once, except nothing was even plugged in at the time. Some sort of short. I just looked over and noticed it smoking ever so slightly and hollered for my parents.
     
  14. Jul 22, 2008 #13

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Thanks rewebster. You're right about re-tightening. A number of years ago in our old house, we started getting some odd brightenings and dimmings of lights. I thought the power company had a problem with the entrance transformer because a load on one leg of the panel would cause higher voltage on the other leg. Nope! I talked to my brother in law, and he told me to open the main panel and tighten the ground and neutral clamps. That fixed it. Clamp(s) were loose, allowing neutral to lose its reference to ground. That house was built during a period when electricians were transitioning from copper to aluminum cables, and clamp technology was not keeping up.
     
  15. Jul 22, 2008 #14

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Yes they are on the same circuit, and have never tripped a breaker, even when the compressors start at the same time. The odd thing is that an outlet on the same circuit with a loose/corroded neutral connection caused the problem. I WILL be surveying and checking and tightening connections.
     
  16. Jul 22, 2008 #15
    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Wow, turbo, it's really good you were there. Electricity is a scary thing to be sure. No taking it for granted.
     
  17. Jul 22, 2008 #16
    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    This is exactly why Im amish.
     
  18. Jul 22, 2008 #17

    Evo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Glad to hear you're ok, that could have been really bad!
     
  19. Jul 22, 2008 #18

    Integral

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    I believe that those who live in Maine are Maniacs... Seems to apply to all I have known. :devil:
     
  20. Jul 22, 2008 #19

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Fair cop! The Maine Air National Guard has that painted on their tails, and it ain't far wrong.
     
  21. Jul 22, 2008 #20

    turbo

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    Re: Glad I was home!!!

    Thanks. I don't care about personal hazard (could jump out a window pretty easily), but it would be a bummer to lose photographs and other belongings that cannot be replaced, along with my guitars, amps, guns, and the contents of my computer HDs. The last is perhaps the thing I should worry least about - my collaborators and I share data, graphs, draft texts, etc so that it would be tough to lose significant pieces of the work that I've been doing on astronomy for the last few years.
     
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