burned outlet


Old 08-24-02, 08:44 PM
daddy's girl
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Question burned outlet

ok....I know I've been playing with fire.......I have been using a window unit air conditioner this summer that sometimes trips a breaker ...also the cord gets hot. Today I came home and my daughter showed me that the outlet had a burn mark and was cracked. My question: if I replace the outlet will it be safe to continue using the air conditioner or do I need to use a smaller unit?
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Old 08-24-02, 11:31 PM
bungalow jeff
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So your house almost burning down wasn't a clear enough signal? You need to either upgrade the circuit or run a new circuit for the AC. A smaller unit will probably trip the fuse anyway.
Old 08-25-02, 08:24 AM
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How big of a unit are you using and what is the rating of the circuit it is connected to?
Old 08-26-02, 12:16 PM
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Originally posted by bungalow jeff
So your house almost burning down wasn't a clear enough signal? You need to either upgrade the circuit or run a new circuit for the AC. A smaller unit will probably trip the fuse anyway.
Before we go off and make this lady feel like she is endangering her family let's stop and think a minute!

It is entirely possible that through time and a lot of use the spades on the plug end of the cord from the a/c are not making the best of contact with the blade receivers in the receptacle. All of these elements are made from copper and copper is a soft metal. Sometimes, the receivers in the receptacle become weak and they don't make good contact anymore and this causes the heating of the cord and it further causes the breaker to trip if the heating is too great. The heating is what has caused the discoloration and it may have even caused the crack.

Yes, it's possible that if you replace the outlet that you may solve the problem. Make sure that you first turn off the breaker that feeds that receptacle and then verify, with a tester, that it is off. Once you have done so you can remove the cover plate and then the device screws that hold the receptacle in place. Gently pull the receptacle out and look at the screws that the wire terminates under and check to see if they are loose at all. The conductors being loose under those screws could also cause the problems that you are describing. If they are loose, that is more than likely the cause of your problem.

You can purchase another receptacle to match that one and replace it one wire at a time so there is no confusion about what goes where. Once that is done you can plug the a/c back in and let it run (while you are there so you can watch and make sure there are no problems) If the cord still heats up badly then it's possible that you may need a new cord as well. Sometimes when the cord get overheated the connections inside of the plugcap to the spades deteriorates. This is something that should probably be done by qualified personell since, you have to open the terminal box on the unit. If however, the heating is gone and the breaker no longer trips then you should be safe. Replacing the receptacle and then checking to see if it elimnates the heating is, by far, the cheapest way to go.

It is also possible that the circuit is, indeed, undersized and this will become evident rather quickly after the new receptacle is installed. If the breaker trips then you either have an undersized circuit or other problems "upstream" of this receptacle.

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