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Bought Portable Heater and Leary of the safety of the electric outlet??

Bought Portable Heater and Leary of the safety of the electric outlet??


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Old 10-04-10, 09:35 PM
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Smile Bought Portable Heater and Leary of the safety of the electric outlet??

I have a very old home that uses the old time fuses instead of breakers. There are 4 fuses and each is 20 amp. I bought a new 15 amp surge protector to plug into the outlet that I would be using for the portable heater. I plugged it in an accidentally, slightly, bumped it and all the surge protector safety features turned off., both lights one to protect from surges and the other from wire misfires turned off. I got it to come on again and I jiggled the plug a little to be sure and it shut off again. Some years ago I had a ceramic heater turned on hi and another breaker strip threw and there was a brown burnt spot where it was plugged into the strip. I never plugged the heater up since the surge protector threw. (information: the heater is max 800 watts)

Regarding the new surge protector could it be too many amps? It is a 15 amp surge protector could that many amps cause an overload without anything plugged into it?

I used a socket tester and both receptacles on the main outlet passed. Any suggestions on what I could do short of calling an electrician? I am on a fairly tight budget.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Bonnie
 
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Old 10-04-10, 09:39 PM
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The blades may be making poor contact with the receptacle blades. The wires may be loose on the receptacle also.

The strip was not drawing any power with nothing plugged into it.
 
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Old 10-04-10, 10:41 PM
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There are 4 fuses and each is 20 amp.
I would see 20a fuses as a yellow flag. Most homes wired on fuses has #14 wire and used 15a circuits. Before going any further you need to find out if you have #14 or #12 wire. If it is older cloth covered cable maybe #12 but if the even older K&T individual conductors it almost certainly #14 and the 20a fuses are a fire hazard. If there are no markings on the wires buy a foot of #14 solid wire and a foot of #12 solid wire at the hardware store. Strip off a inch or two of insulation and compare to a stripped section of your current wire.

Note 60a services were once very common. 4 fuses would likely be 4 15a fuses for a total of 60a. I can't recall hearing of an 80a service though I could be wrong. If indeed your circuits are 15a they would really not be suitable for an electric space heater which often draws in excess of 12a.
 
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Old 10-05-10, 08:54 AM
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Bonnie,

In my opinion, space heaters are iffy on a modern wiring system let alone on your old system. Never leave the heater unattended and only use on a temporary basis.
 
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Old 10-05-10, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for the information. I think I am going to return the heater to be safe.

Bonnie
 
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Old 10-05-10, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bonnie2008 View Post
Thanks for the information. I think I am going to return the heater to be safe.
Bonnie
To be safe you also need to check if those 20a fuses are too large for your wiring.
 
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Old 10-05-10, 01:11 PM
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Space heaters can be used safely if it is temporary and attended. The heater and cord should also be kept in good repair and never used with an extension cord or splitter. Where practical it is best to plug space heaters into a "commercial-grade" receptacle, or at least one where the plug fits tightly. The heater should be positioned away from flammables like drapes and also so that pets and children cannot tip it or touch the hot parts. To pass UL testing, I believe all space heaters now must have a tilt sensor to switch off if it tips, but still I wouldn't want to put it to the test on the carpet.

Space heaters should not be used as a replacement for central heating systems, but can be fine for supplemental heating when you're careful to use them correctly.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 03:14 AM
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Also, you really don't need to run them on the high setting. The high setting taxes the circuit, and the only difference is the time it takes to bring the room up to temp. Even then, the difference could be minutes, not hours, if the heater isn't being asked to heat an area that's larger then it was designed to do.

BTW, a surge protector/power strip is an extension cord. Heaters don't need surge protection, and as Ben said, should never be plugged in to an extension cord.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 07:10 AM
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Make sure the plug and outlet do not get warm/hot. It will get a tad warm on high, but that is it. Perhaps in the 90-ish F degree range. I used my IR thermometer on the outlet/plug end.

But if it starts getting warm/hot or hot, then you have a connection that is poor.

Last year I had a space heater whose factory plug looked just fine. One of those solid cast rubber ones where you can't imagine anything being wrong. Well. After the plug and outlet got a little warm for my liking, I took the outlet out and carefully observed and made sure the wires were tight. They were. They wre not backstabbed either. I tried to tighten them further, but that was not the issue. So then I decided to snip off the plug, get new one from hardware store, and carefully install so all the wire strands were around the screws. After that, no more warm/hot plug or outlet on high!

Oh. And the issue was not the fact I siwtched to an HD plug. Because before and after test, the wire ALSO was warm/hot near the plug, and after, it was not.

And something else: The old plug's prongs were tight fitting to the outlet, and not tarnished. In fact, I brightened them up to be sure, and same ill result.
 
 

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