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Thread: Electrical Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Electrical Question

    Would anyone have an idea what happened here. I have a small, electric heater in my granddaughters room. Lowes special, looks like a small fireplace. I have it plugged in to a gfi outlet. Wednesday night the gfi tripped, I reset it and used it last night. It went off again during the night but before it tripped it scorched the outlet on the hot side, black wire side. It must have cooked the gfi because it will not reset. Really scared me, could have been a fire. We used this last year with no problems and nothing has changed on the circuit. The heater is rated at 1500 / 60 hz. Would this be a problem with the heater causing this? I dont think I will use it again but worry that another heater may do the same thing. It actually started to melt the outlet. Anyone have any ideas if the heater went bad to cause this or is it a circuit problem. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Sayer,
    I know nothing about electricity so can't help, but it looks like you dodged a bullet with this one. Have you considered one of the oil filled heaters? The one we keep in our master bath on a GFI circuit works very well. These don't have any exposed electrical coils, but I don't know how much current they draw.

  3. #3
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    May 2007
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    I really sounds like it could have been a loose connection on the hot side of the plug (bad plug) arcing. You could test the heater on another plug and feel for if the plug is getting warm at all, but may not be worth the trouble.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
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    I agree with Darren on the connection being loose, especially if the wires are backstabbed {I hate those things!}.
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  5. #5
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    Mar 2007
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    Watching with interest. I have a quartz heater I love but it scorched a plug last year. So, loose connection in the heater? Replace the plug? What should I look for? The thing is really economical to run and it has a thermostat and a remote! I'd like to get it going again. It was not inexpensive either, so replacing it is out of the question for right now.
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  6. #6
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    Carol, I'd test with another outlet to verify and see if the plug is getting hot, could need the plug replace rather than the outlet, but most likely a bad outlet if the pins on the plug are straight. If it's arcing, then you'll see some of that on the plug. I also agree with Ken that if it's the type of plug that the source wires are stabbed in rather than screwed down, I'd replace it with one that has screwed connections.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  7. #7
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    Being a motor home, it's quite possible it's the backstab type of outlet rather than a screw terminal.
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  8. #8
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    Space heaters, according to all the firemen I've spoken to, are just firestarters in wait. If you must use one, be sure every connection in the chain is a snug, firm connection. Like Darren said, if the terminal wires are even a little loose, they will arc more and heat up. 1500W is a lot of juice to be pulling for long periods of time. The plug will heat up a bit even in normal use - just make sure it's plugged into an outlet that's got securely fastened wires. Like Ken said, the backstabbed method of wiring a house is a good way to burn it down. Wrapped around a screw, snugged down, is a much more secure (and safe) connection.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  9. #9
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    Thanks all. I removed the gfi from the wall and the wires were screwed on very tight, not backstabed. I'm going to replace the gfi today and will pick up a new, good heater. I will never feel comfortable using the heater I have again unless it's limited use where I can keep and eye on it, Ill probably just trash it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayer Fancher View Post
    I have it plugged in to a gfi outlet. Wednesday night the gfi tripped, I reset it and used it last night.
    IMHO, here is where things went south. You do not mention what you did to determine why the safety feature activated. If something falls over and you simply stand it up again, it will fall over again.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

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