plug sparking when shaking


Old 04-17-09, 04:28 PM
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Location: Ottawa
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plug sparking when shaking


I live in a old house with shoddy electrical - let me get that out in the open to start I corrected a problem recently and i'm hoping someone can tell me if perhaps i should do more.

The plug my fridge was plugged in to stopped working recently. When i shake the plug the fridge goes on and off, and i can see a faint blue light coming from within the receptacle - NOT GOOD. I turned off the breaker, plate, and inspected. The neutral wire connected to the receptacle was a little black, and there was obvious signs of burning on the plastic shielding surrounding the tip of the wire. The ground wire was basically non existant to the receptacle - it wasn't even copper, just an incredibly thin thread of wire connecting the front of the box to the receptacle. There was a ground wire from the cable run to the box though.

Heres what i did:
- took off the receptacle and got a new one
- Took a piece of 14 gauge copper ground wire from another run, tightly bound it with the source ground wire, around a ground screw, and securely onto the new receptacle
- Cut and stripped the hot and neutral wires, and securely fastened them to the new receptacle
- Replaced the plate, turned the breaker on
- Checked with a circuit tester, it reported all was well.
- Plugged the fridge in, it works. Gave the plug a good few shakes, still works, no sparking.

I did have an electrical inspection within the past couple years, and it passed, but i'm not certain that they checked EVERY outlet, its possible this outlet was not properly grounded. Its also possible there was too much plastic surrounding the neutral wire into the old receptacle causing the spark.

Anything else? Anything i might have missed or should check in addition to this? Any help or insight is appreciated.

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Old 04-17-09, 05:52 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Iowa
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It looks like the grounds weren't fasten correct. I beleive the reason why the neutral was dark colored was due to a loose connection where the wire hooks to the screw of the receptacle. A good starting point if you want to go through some of your wiring in your home is to check every outlet for this. If you do so please make sure you shut off the power.


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Old 04-18-09, 05:31 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Near Buffalo, NY
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You didn't mention if the wires going into the receptacle were "back stabbed", which means they were connected to the little holes in the back of the receptacle instead of the screws. If that was the case, you probably have quite a few more that are wired the same way. It would be prudent to move any back-stabbed wires to the screws.

(I recently found a back-stabbed recep in my house, only the moron who did it jammed the wires into the release slots!)
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