Two small questions

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Old 07-17-05, 08:02 AM
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Question Two small questions

1) Is it normal for a surge protector in the ON position, with a DVD player, two VCR's, and a TV plugged into it to make a really tiny spark and popping sound when inadvertanly plugged in to an electrical outlet? The spark and pop being from the outlet is normal I assume, since the equipment plugged into the protector is immediately seeking juice. Next time, I know, turn the protector OFF!

2) I live in an apartment with 831 other units on the property, and have noticed that there is accumulated dust in the holes where the prongs go on a couple of my electrical outlets. Not dust completely plugging up the entire thing, just a little ring of dusty particles around the immediate inner hole on each one........I assume I can blow this out with compressed air if I want, but it really is not a fire hazard............or at least I HOPE it isn't since the other 831 apartments probably have the same thing happening. CAN AN OUTLET CATCH FIRE from simple trace dust, or are we talking it would need a bunch of lint from a household dryer sort of situation? HELP and THANKS!
 
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Old 07-17-05, 09:04 AM
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(1) Yes, it's normal. To avoid the spark, you should never plug or unplug anything that is turned on.

2) The dust could be a fire hazard if it gets bad, but that's very unlikely. Using a vacuum might be better than compressed air to clean it (since the air may just blow the dust farther in).
 
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Old 07-17-05, 09:40 AM
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Thanks for the reply, John, but I am a bit concerned now. The dust IS VISIBLE in the outlets. Not caked up to the point where you can feel it hindering the entrance of plugs into the outlet, but it is pretty visible, looks like its been there a while also. My concern is that I could vacuum out my outlets, and be done with it, but I seriously doubt that all 831 other apartments in the complex will do the same, ya know. Then again the place has been here 15 years plus and hasn't burned down yet. SERIOUSLY THOUGH............do outlets carry enough amps/volts to start a FIRE with some dust in them?????
 
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Old 07-17-05, 10:52 AM
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As I said before, very unlikely.
 
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Old 07-17-05, 02:23 PM
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John- appreciate the info. What exactly is it that makes lint and other things a fire hazard? Just for my own knowledge- do plugs get THAT hot if they're working properly? I would imagine that it would have to be extreme cases for that to happen. I am one of the least handy people I can think of, so any insights are appreciated. Thanks again!
 
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Old 07-17-05, 05:55 PM
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"Just for my own knowledge- do plugs get THAT hot if they're working properly?"

Well, lets put it in perspective here.

You don't normally ever need a fuse/circuit breakers in your house. The only time you need them is when there is an electrical short. Otherwise, if the circuit is working properly -- they're useless. So why do we use fuses/breakers? For the rare occasion a circuit DOESN'T work properly. It only takes 1 malfunction to burn a house down.

I don't think you have much to worry about; heat is not really created under normal use. The more amps you pull the hotter it gets, but to get the outlet to heat up enough to make the dust combust -- it'd probably end up tripping a breaker (and then your heat source dies.)

The likleyhood the wiring can heat up enough to burn the dust is low, because more than likley you'd need a direct unfused short to get it hot enough. If that happens, then burning a little dust in an outlet is the LEAST of your worries.
 
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Old 07-17-05, 06:00 PM
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Gents- thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it. Smartest thing I did all week was join this forum and get some knowledge on my concerns versus flying into sheer panic without the aid of insight! Any other thoughts anyone cares to share would be appreciated also! HAVE A GREAT WEEK!
 
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Old 07-17-05, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by jon_k
"You don't normally ever need a fuse/circuit breakers in your house. The only time you need them is when there is an electrical short. Otherwise, if the circuit is working properly -- they're useless.
Not quite true. The fuse or breaker does protect against a short, but it also protects against an overload that is not a short circuit.

Many homeowners would have no clue they are overloading a circuit if it weren't for the fuse blowing or the breaker tripping. Over a long period of time, an overloaded circuit can cause a fire.
 
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Old 07-18-05, 08:21 AM
ally68
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I know fire is the worst thing that can come from poor wiring. But if you look at how many houses there are in this country and you long time electricians can chime in as to how many have below code or poor wiring 50 percent?more than likly more than that when you factor in old houses and trailers and such. I think even with below code or poor wiring it still takes alot of chance to get an electric fire. Unless you bypass the saftey features ie removing fuses uping breakers. I guess what I am trying to say is the saftey features in your house breakers and such do a good job protecting you even if your wiring and such is poor or below code. Not that I am saying dont follow code I am not saying that at all just that you are alot more likly to be hit by a car.
And many electric fires are from blatant code violations IE pennys in place of fuses useing 30 amp breaker so the 20 amp wont trip any more and so on.
 
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Old 07-18-05, 01:07 PM
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Couple of places here in town said no problem on dust as far as fire hazard land, just popping circuit breaker, losing power/low power due to bad connections, burning out the outlets themselves in EXTREME cases. Thanks for all the responses so far here on the board as well. Hope everyone's Monday is going well. Cheers!
 
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