Electric Outlet Melting

Old 08-18-03, 04:54 AM
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Electric Outlet Melting

Last night, sitting at the dinner table, I noticed the smell of what I thought to be smoke. Nothing visible, but it smelled like when rubber melts on a hot surface. Checked the dishwasher as sometimes a rubber or plastic items falls through and gets burned by the heating element. Nothing there. I finally traced it down to an electrical outlet that had a plastic safety cover on it. Tried to pull the safety cover out and noticed it had melted in the outlet. Shut off the circuit, pulled the outlet off and noticed that the connection point at the black wire had started to melt thru the receptacle on the top connector (this outlet is one of a series on one 15amp circuit). Bottom black connector was fine as were the white wires. Have replaced the receptacle and tested. All seems fine now.

Any ideas what could have caused that?

Old 08-18-03, 06:23 AM
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If this was one of the backstab connections, they sometimes work loose and cause a voltage drop which will pull high current and overheat. Connections are more reliable when the wires are placed under the screws.

Hope this helps.
Old 08-18-03, 06:29 AM
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Thanks, but the wires were screwed in...I actually tried to rewire using the backstab, but the wire was too thick to insert...having looked at some of the posts, it appears it's better to use the screws and NOT the backstabs...Thanks
Old 08-18-03, 08:36 AM
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Talking 12AWG??

I noticed that you said the wire was 'too thick' for the backstab hole. This sounds like a 12AWG wire with a 15A receptacle.
Pls double-check the breaker to see if it's 15A or 20A circuit.
Although you're allowed to use 15A recep with 12AWG (only if 15A breaker is used), it's possible that the circuit is overloaded for 15A recep to handle.
Old 08-18-03, 09:08 AM
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Angry Whoops, my bad

Whoops...it's a 20a circuit...
Old 08-18-03, 12:24 PM
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NEC Table 210.21(B)(3) Receptacle Ratings. Where connected to a branch circuit supplying two or more receptacles or outlets, receptacles ratings shall conform to the values listed in Table 210.21(B)(3), or where larger than 50 amperes, the receptacle rating shall not be less than the branch-circuit rating.

Table 210.21(B)(3) Receptacle Ratings for Various Size Circuits

15 A circuit Recep Not over 15
20 A circuit 15 or 20
30 A circuit 30
40 A circuit 40 or 50
50 A circuit 50

You are allowed to use a 15 A recep on a circuit rated for 20 A as long as their are 2 or more receps. A single duplex is 2 receps.
Old 08-18-03, 06:28 PM
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The problem that you describe is precisely the reason to use pigtails as opposed to using the device as a splice point. Using the screws as the splice point causes all the current for the circuit to pass through the little brass tab that connects the two screws together. As far as I am concerned connecting receptacles this way is almost as bad as using the backstab connections.
Old 08-18-03, 07:41 PM
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Hi, can you give us your opinion over on

Thanks if you can and thanks if you can't

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