Fire in Electrical Outlet


  #1  
Old 10-04-03, 06:47 AM
Marko46
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Fire in Electrical Outlet

Hi! This is my first post but a serious one. My wife and I were sleeping downstairs near the fireplace last night when we heard a crackling kind of noise, like one of our cats was scratching something. When we looked we saw flames coming out of an outlet near the window! The lamp was plugged in to the socket but had been turned off. We put out the flames and saw a wet spot under the outlet where apparently one of our cats had sprayed on the outlet. ( possibly creating a short?) When we went down to the basement to check the circuit box, the curcuit had been tripped and now the basement and that side of the house is out too. The house is very old and some of the wiring is too. Where do we begin? What could have caused this? (it's never happened before) We've had no trouble with outlets or wiring before. Do we have a big fire hazard? Does this sound like we will have to rewire the whole house? Thanks for your help!
 
  #2  
Old 10-04-03, 08:28 AM
J
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I would suggest that you replace your cat's favorite outlets with GFCI outlets (or replace the cat). However, with the outlet where there was a fire, it may be more complicated. Shut off the breaker and pull out the receptacle. Make good notes on how it is connected before removing it. Inspect the wiring carefully for damage. Unfortunately, it seems almost certain that it will be damaged. If you can cut off the damaged area and still have enough wire left to connect the new GFCI receptacle, then you are very lucky. Otherwise, you'll need to fish new wire to this box. How easy or hard that will be depends on your skills and experience, and the topology of your house.
 
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Old 10-04-03, 10:29 AM
Marko46
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Thanks for your reply. I'm sure we will have professionals come in and look at the box. In your experience, do you feel that the problem is probably isolated to the one outlet and it's connected wiring or is it indicative of a larger, housewide problem. Thanks so much for your advise!
 
  #4  
Old 10-04-03, 11:54 AM
J
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Since there was an actual fire your insurance may cover the cost if you care to go that route. Be aware that some insurance companies drop you if you make a claim.
 
  #5  
Old 10-04-03, 02:13 PM
J
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In my opinion, the problem potential is not isolated to that one outlet (but it may be isolated to that one cat). Code pretty much requires that all receptacles with a risk of getting wet be GFCI protected. Maybe all receptacles in your house have a risk of getting wet.
 
 

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