Hello all, first post. I need help!!!! SPARKS!!

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  #1  
Old 07-20-07, 07:19 AM
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Hello all, first post. I need help!!!! SPARKS!!

Hello all,

This morning when I used the Microwave a wall socket nearby (with nothing hooked up to it) began to spark up. I immediately shut the microwave down and unplugged it.

I called for a repairman to come by tommorrow to look at it, is there anything I can do in the meantime? I am worried about starting a fire.

Please help. And, thank you.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-20-07, 07:30 AM
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With the power off, check the connections in the receptacle that sparked. You most likely have a loose connection that needs to be tightened. Five minute fix. Done.
 
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Old 07-20-07, 07:31 AM
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or spend 3 bucks or so and replace the outlet
 
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Old 07-20-07, 07:33 AM
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Until I am able to do that, is there any danger of it sparking up on its own, the only thing plugged in near it is the refrigerator.
 
  #5  
Old 07-20-07, 07:36 AM
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Or it could be that your house has aluminum wiring, in which case you would need more professional help.

As long as you don't use the outlet, you should be okay until the repairman arrives.
 
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Old 07-20-07, 07:36 AM
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Thank you guys for your help, I know this is a D.I.Y. forum, but I am deathly afraid of Electricity.

I will leave that to the professionals.
 
  #7  
Old 07-20-07, 07:39 AM
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Aluminum wiring? How would that be a problem? Very curious.
 
  #8  
Old 07-20-07, 07:51 AM
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Apparently the receptacle that the microwave is plugged into is on the same circuit and downstream from the receptacle that sparked. Using the receptacle that sparked or any downstream receptacle could cause the sparking to happen again.

The refrigerator may or may not be on the same circuit as the receptacle that sparked. You should already know what circuit each of these receptacles is on. You should know because you should have completely and thoroughly mapped out your house circuits shortly after you moved in. If you did not do this, I recommend that you do so now. The information cold save your life. Your goal is to know what circuit breaker controls each and every receptacle, light and appliance in your house. Do no trust any labels already on the circuit breaker panel. Make your own chart and make it thorough.

Aluminum wiring was used for branch circuit wiring for a short period of time in the 70s. It was abandoned when it it was discovered that it was the root cause of several fires. While the wiring is safe when properly connected, the routine act of plugging in and unplugging items from receptacles and the varying current on the circuit caused connections to weaken/loosen. These connections caused fires to happen in some cases.

Aluminum wiring is no longer used for branch circuit wiring. It is still used and is still safe for some situations (mainly feeding the main panel and feeding sub panels). Some insurance companies go as far as charging a premium for homes with aluminum wiring, or even refusing to insure those homes until the aluminum wiring is replaced.
 
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Old 07-20-07, 07:56 AM
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Wow,

I did not know that, I will definately map out the connections when I get home from work. What is the best way of doing that? Just tripping the breakers and checking each power source?

Thank you so much for the information, I really appreciate it. Our townhome was built in the 80's so I don't think Aluminum was used, I hope.
 
  #10  
Old 07-20-07, 08:15 AM
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To map out your circuits, have someone help you.

I turn on every light in the house and use a small plug in radio or something easy to carry. Turn off each circuit breaker one at a time and then figure out what doesn't work. Be thorough and do not assume that every receptacle in a room is on the same circuit. Don't forget any receptacles and lights that are outside. Don;t be surprised if lights and receptacles are on separate circuits.

Certainly use any existing labels in the panel as a starting point, but don't be surprised if they are not accurate.

Make two lists. They should both have the same information, in different ways.

One list should be by circuit. An example would be:

Circuit 1: front bedroom receptacles; hallway upstairs receptacle and light
Circuit 2: master bedroom receptacles
Circuit 3: upstairs bathroom
Circuit 4: living room east wall and south wall receptacles
Circuit 5: living room west wall and north wall receptacles

The second list should be by room:

front bedroom: receptacles circuit 1
master bedroom: receptacles circuit 2
upstairs bathroom: receptacle, lights and fan circuit 3
living room: east wall and west wall receptacles circuit 4
west wall and north wall receptacles


And on and on. The goal is so that you will easily know what is on each breaker (the first list) and so that you can easily find the right breaker for any particular room (the second list).


Some people go further and include the circuit size for each circuit (for example: 120 volts, 20 amps) on the lists.

Others use a small label or a permanent marker and label the underside of each switch/receptacle plate with the circuit number.

Even though you employ these methods, it is a also a good idea to check for power whenever you are going to open and work on a switch box. I got zapped once because I turned off the wrong breaker. I knew which one I needed to turn off, I just got the wrong one. A non-contact tester (often called a tick tester because of ticking sound it makes when it detects power) can be used. So can a two wire tester, but this is a little more trickier.
 
  #11  
Old 07-20-07, 08:25 AM
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Thank you very much.

I am going to get my wife to help tonight, you have been very helpful and I appreciate it, I am gonna stick around here and learn more.
 
  #12  
Old 07-20-07, 08:39 AM
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I recommend that you wait until your current problem is addressed before embarking on an effort to map out your circuits. Your current problem could complicate the mapping.

The mapping might require even more detail than in Bob's examples. For example, all "front bedroom receptacles" may not be on the same circuit. You may need to break it down even further, with something like "front bedroom west wall receptacles" or even "front bedroom receptacle in the northwest corner".
 
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Old 07-20-07, 08:50 AM
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Ok, I will wait, I don't want to do anything that will make matters worse.
 
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Old 07-20-07, 11:08 AM
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One way to map your house electrical circuits is by drawing up a plan of your home showing all recepticals, lights, and switches, and writing what circuit from the breaker box supplies each, next to it. If you are smart about it, you could do it on the computer (afterwards), and have each circuit on a color/layer.
 
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