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Old 12-29-2016, 02:30 AM   #1
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Burned outlet - replace wire?


I own a duplex where a tenant overloaded or shorted out an outlet. There is a clear burn mark on the neutral prong of the outlet in question and my tester said it had an open neutral. When I pulled the outlet out, the back of the outlet was cracked in this this 1993 built duplex. There was a black, red, and white incoming wire in a black sheathing and the same outgoing from the box. Obviously the red wire implies it was a switched outlet and it is. The wires all looked like they had some smoke on them but it didn't really rub off. The incoming neutral seemed to have excessive amount of exposed wire as if part of it's insulation also burned off - maybe 3/4".

I cut all 6 wires back to where there was no bare wire exposed so I could start anew with wire stripping. I stripped wire and then color coded more electrical tape over what was there as insurance on all six wires, then connected to a new 15amp outlet and all was functional again.

I have done a lot of DIY electrical work over the years on my home and the homes of family members. This is the first time I have repaired this kind of problem and naturally worry about what I don't know. What is the protocol in this case is my question - as I did or to replace all wire back one outlet or replace all wire back to the panel? Would a multi-meter reading imply whether what has now been done means the repair is in good shape?

I wanted to post 2 pictures, but had no permission to do so yet. Haven't received my confirmation email and perhaps I can after that?

Thanks for any thoughts on the matter.

Carl

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Old 12-29-2016, 06:27 AM   #2
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


I am not an electrician, so you may want to wait for an answer from a real one.

In my experience, a short and burning like you have described only affects the ends of the wires where the short occurred. Therefore, removing the cable is, IMHO, unnecessary. I believe that what you did is perfectly acceptable. However, I eould caution you against using the "backstabs" on the receptacle, since those are unreliable.

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Old 12-29-2016, 07:39 AM   #3
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


When you stripped the conductors was the isolation hard and brittle or difficult to strip?

That is one indicator of thermal damage to the insulation

Was the copper discolored?


Was this outlet that was damaged hooked wired or were the conductors pushed in?
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Old 12-29-2016, 08:02 AM   #4
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


You do not state where you live. In my state, only a licensed electrician can perform electrical work on a rental property. You did state the property was a duplex, so you may want to check with your local electrical inspector and your insurance company to make sure you are legally authorized to do the work. There are obvious potential consequences to performing unauthorized work, regardless of the quality of the final product.
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Old 12-30-2016, 06:08 AM   #5
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
You do not state where you live. In my state, only a licensed electrician can perform electrical work on a rental property. You did state the property was a duplex, so you may want to check with your local electrical inspector and your insurance company to make sure you are legally authorized to do the work. There are obvious potential consequences to performing unauthorized work, regardless of the quality of the final product.
Daniel - are you saying that I, as the OWNER of the rental property, cannot do electrical work on that property? If so, what state do you live in, and have you ever seen a copy of that law or ordinance? If so, please provide a link.

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Old 12-30-2016, 08:22 AM   #6
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
You do not state where you live. In my state, only a licensed electrician can perform electrical work on a rental property. You did state the property was a duplex, so you may want to check with your local electrical inspector and your insurance company to make sure you are legally authorized to do the work. There are obvious potential consequences to performing unauthorized work, regardless of the quality of the final product.
That seems to be the norm now, even in Canada. And they're working on making it illegal even if it's your own home.
One could always find a Electrician that'll sign off on your work if you want to save a few bucks and to make it legal and upto code.
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Old 12-30-2016, 11:52 AM   #7
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


Sorry - I was wondering why I was not seeing any responses, but am new here and had to log in again, I guess.

"When you stripped the conductors was the isolation hard and brittle or difficult to strip?" YES - It was a little harder to strip and YES the end of copper was SLIGHTLY and sporadically discolored, even after the new part I stripped away. I chose not to chase that too far for fear it would be too difficult to make my connections, I was able to reinforce most of the insulation with electrical tape. The original wire was push in connected to the outlet, which I virtually never do when I redo something.

It is not legal for me to do this work in this state either and accept that when I do this, I have some risk. The important thing for me is to do the work appropriately. My gut feeling is if I had an electrician in there and faced with the pain-in-the-a$$ work it is to replace the wire, they'd somehow justify doing the exact same thing I did. I'm not saying what I did was right, but it's where I stand as I give consideration to having an electrician come double check it.

I told the tenants to get rid of like four extremely light duty and some 2-prong extension cords which may have caused the problem the way they were stringing them together. I'm more concerned about what they do than how I left it, but do appreciate the thoughts here. Thanks.

Carl
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Old 12-30-2016, 11:58 AM   #8
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


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Sorry -
I told the tenants to get rid of like four extremely light duty and some 2-prong extension cords which may have caused the problem the way they were stringing them together. I'm more concerned about what they do than how I left it, but do appreciate the thoughts here. Thanks.

Carl

I would bet the issue was more with the Quick-Wire, stab in connection than anything. I am not a fan of the quick wire connection, though there are 100's of 1000's of theses installations and maybe the failure rate is small. I just know I would not want them in my house, but then I am a bit anal.

Sometimes we have to rely on our gut as to whether something needs to be replaced or not. That is in your ballpark.
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Old 01-02-2017, 02:46 PM   #9
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


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I would bet the issue was more with the Quick-Wire, stab in connection than anything. I am not a fan of the quick wire connection, though there are 100's of 1000's of theses installations and maybe the failure rate is small. I just know I would not want them in my house, but then I am a bit anal.

Sometimes we have to rely on our gut as to whether something needs to be replaced or not. That is in your ballpark.
I do think the quick stab was part of the problem, perhaps in conjunction with using too lightweight of extension cords. They are widely used and assume still used, but I'm not going to go replace them all until they fail. Every now and then, I replace a group because they've become so loose as to not hold a plug, but usually wait until a reported problem rather than as any preventative measure.
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Old 01-02-2017, 05:07 PM   #10
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


Most electricians would inspect the damaged wires first,
if damaged they will cut the damaged section off and pig tail if needed.
So if you cut out the damaged wire, provided the remaining wire is in good condition
And the new connection is electrically sound ? then I don't see a practicle problem with it, the only problem may be electrical codes depending on where you live ?
In many area's it is not permitted by code.
Do you know what your local codes allow ?
This is why it is important to fill in the area where you live
in your personal profile, then you can get info relevent to your area !
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Old 01-13-2017, 11:32 AM   #11
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


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Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
Most electricians would inspect the damaged wires first,
if damaged they will cut the damaged section off and pig tail if needed.
So if you cut out the damaged wire, provided the remaining wire is in good condition
And the new connection is electrically sound ? then I don't see a practicle problem with it, the only problem may be electrical codes depending on where you live ?
In many area's it is not permitted by code.
Do you know what your local codes allow ?
This is why it is important to fill in the area where you live
in your personal profile, then you can get info relevent to your area !
I appreciate your feedback and haven't yet been able to update my profile for lack of correct permissions or whatever. I just messaged the powers that be on the "Contact Us" page and maybe I'll be able to get this corrected. I never received an email with a confirmation code and that may have something to do with it, but didn't worry about it after being able to login and post. By the way, I'm in Portland Oregon. Thanks again.
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Old 01-13-2017, 11:56 AM   #12
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


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Originally Posted by cdmmoore View Post
I do think the quick stab was part of the problem, perhaps in conjunction with using too lightweight of extension cords. They are widely used and assume still used, but I'm not going to go replace them all until they fail. Every now and then, I replace a group because they've become so loose as to not hold a plug, but usually wait until a reported problem rather than as any preventative measure.
Extension cord would not cause problems like this. If they overload it, the extension cord may melt, or even catch fire, but the receptacle would be fine. If you overload the receptacle enough to cause damage to the wiring in the wall, the breaker would trip first.

I think you are just facing a regular short circuit, perhaps from low quality/stab receptacles.

Two prong extension cords are also perfectly fine.
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Old 01-13-2017, 12:03 PM   #13
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Re: Burned outlet - replace wire?


CDMoore......

It is a judgement call.... even if we were all on site and looking at it, sounds like we might have differnt opinions as to the insulation integrity.(Normally I would think not and sounds local (at the receptical) to me.

But you do sound very concerned... which is to your integrity... and just to let you know that some electricians can do a test called a megger test to double check insulation quality between points... normally in commercial... but I've heard it done in residential. I've never actually seen it or know the costs.
I think it hits the wire with varying voltage and measures leakage)

Good luck

By the way, in my jurisdiction, I can only do permitted electrical work on my personal residence, regardless of whether I own it.

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