A warm outlet?

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  #1  
Old 01-01-05, 01:12 PM
twirly
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A warm outlet?

I know I am not going to like the answer to this question. We recently bought a 15 year old house that is in pretty good shape all around. I recently noticed that the standard 120v outlet in our bathroom is warm to the touch - even when nothing has been plugged into it for some time. That gets your attention! As I understand it, the only way that can happen is if there is some current flow through there and something in it is undersized for that flow, right? Its not hot, just noticeably and significantly warm. It is on the same circuit with the other bathroom outlet (which only has a digital clock plugged into it), the basement lights (which are off all the time), and I'm not sure what else at this point.

I recently replaced that outlet with a GFCI type. It hasn't been in there long enough yet to get a reliable read on whether or not it too is going to heat up.

Any thoughts out there from the "wise ones"? Would you sleep well at night with this unidentified current going on inside your walls?

Joe
 
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  #2  
Old 01-01-05, 03:00 PM
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The current for everything on that circuit probably passes through this receptacle. The heat was probably caused by a bad connection. Were the wires poked into holes instead of wrapped around screws? Now that you've replaced it, I'll bet you'll have no more trouble.
 
  #3  
Old 01-01-05, 08:05 PM
twirly
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Well actually the wires in the old outlet were plugged into the holes rather than wrapped around the screw, which is the same way I installed the new one. There was some damage at one of the connection points on the old outlet, but the connection still looked to be very good. But maybe that could be the source of the heat. I just checked the new outlet, and it is not hot, except maybe the very slightest but of warmth around the Reset button. I'll just continue to check it. Thanks for the help!
Joe
 
  #4  
Old 01-02-05, 09:00 AM
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Never use those stupid holes. Always use the screws.
 
  #5  
Old 01-02-05, 01:42 PM
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Just a side note: There are _three_ common ways that receptacles may be connected.

1) The 'quick wire' connections, also called 'back stab' connections. You push the wires in, and a spring grabs on to them. Don't use these. They are UL listed, but have a really bad reputation.

2) Standard screw terminal connections, also called 'side wire'.

3) 'Back wire' connections. These are holes in the back of the device with a screw on the side. When you tighten the screw, a clamping plate grabs the wire. These are IMHO the nicest connectors of the bunch. Some of these devices are 'back and side wire', where you can use the pressure plate clamp _or_ just use the screw.

Many GFCI receptacles come with type 3, but are backwire only. Don't try to use the side screws to hold the wire on these. Strip the wire to the proper length, push into the hole in the back, and tighten the screw to the manufacturer's recommended torque.

-Jon
 
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