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Old 01-07-2012, 12:26 PM   #1
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


Lately I have been noticing that when my wife uses the hair dryer there is a bad smell in the master bedroom. I thought it was the hair dryer. But last night after using the dryer my wife went to turn off the lights in the bedroom and noticed the wall switch was very hot.

I checked the switch and the smell I have been noticing was actually coming from the switch.
She has been using the same dryer for a long time and nothing has been changed in the room (electrical) in a long time.

I had an extra wall switch, so I replaced it. I will monitor next time she uses the hair dryer.
All I can think is that the circuit was being overloaded. But why? nothing has changed.
So either the wall switch was going bad or the hair dryer is going bad.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

FYI:While she was using the hair dryer, she had on the TV (LED 46" flat screen) also.

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Old 01-07-2012, 12:28 PM   #2
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


Old house?
What size wire?
What size breaker for that circut?
Is it grounded?
Are the outlets back stabbed or are the wires wrapped aroud the screws?

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Old 01-07-2012, 12:43 PM   #3
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Old house?
What size wire?
What size breaker for that circut?
Is it grounded?
Are the outlets back stabbed or are the wires wrapped aroud the screws?

The house was built in 1988. We are the original owners.
I believe it's 14/2 romex
Not sure what size. It does not say on the breaker panel. (how can I tell?)
Yes grounded.
At the wall switch they are back stabbed, except for one wire. At the outlets they are back stabbed, except for one outlet. There were no ceiling lights so I ran a romex from the ceiling to the outlet and wrapped it around the the screw. The wall switch controls one half of the outlet.
There are 4 outlets in the room, all on the same circuit.
The romex I ran matched the existing size. Out of the 4 outlets my wife used one for the hair dyer and the other the TV, cable box,vcr,stereo plugged in.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:55 PM   #4
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


14-2 is only rated for 15 amps.
Any new house would have to wired with 12-2 for 20 Amp.
Any loose connections will cause an over heat. Change the back stabs to around the screw and see if this helps.
But with 14-2 wire your about maxed out when trying to run more then just the hair dryer on that circut.
I'm sure some of the real elect. guys will be on here soon and get you straight.
There's been dozen or people on this site just trying to use space heaters on 14-2 wiring burning up outlets because of under sized wiring.
14-2 would be fine for lighting, but not heavy enough for outlets with that much draw.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:56 PM   #5
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
14-2 is only rated for 15 amps.
Any new house would have to wired with 12-2 for 20 Amp.
Any loose connections will cause an over heat. Change the back stabs to around the screw and see if this helps.
But with 14-2 wire your about maxed out when trying to run more then just the hair dryer on that circut.
I'm sure some of the real elect. guys will be on here soon and get you straight.
There's been dozen or people on this site just trying to use space heaters on 14-2 wiring burning up outlets because of under sized wiring.
14-2 would be fine for lighting, but not heavy enough for outlets with that much draw.

But why all of a sudden?
How can I check too see how many amps the breaker is?

Correction-I just checked-It's 12/2 Romex

Last edited by grod777; 01-07-2012 at 01:23 PM. Reason: additional question
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:26 PM   #6
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


The breaker ratings are written on the breaker handles.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:35 PM   #7
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


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Originally Posted by grod777

But why all of a sudden?
How can I check too see how many amps the breaker is?

Correction-I just checked-It's 12/2 Romex
Because it is Murphy telling you something. I would replace all of the outlets at this point with commercial types vs the cheap residentials. Also if this is a bath, that outlet should be gfci protected.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:15 PM   #8
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Because it is Murphy telling you something. I would replace all of the outlets at this point with commercial types vs the cheap residentials. Also if this is a bath, that outlet should be gfci protected.

What's the difference between a commercial grade and residential grade?
Can they withstand more current or are they just made stronger?
Why would I need a commercial grade in a residential home?

It' not a bathroom, its a bedroom.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


Heavier duty, and have clamp downs like gfci outlets do. Also, there could already be enough load on tht circuit, once you plug in the blow dryer, it of course is bringing you to the limit.

Bad thing about blow dryers, is people will keep th forever and never replace until they die. I am sure that if you just replace the wife's blow dryer, fix the backstabs, bet the problem will go away.

And tell her to start using the bath outlet vs bedroom. Also, you may want to put in afci breakers for yhe bedroom circuits, due to something of the mature you had, is how house fires start.

I have seen firsthand, what happens when a electrical line can appear to be normal for hours, then burst into fire with no first sign on the outside of it happening.
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Last edited by gregzoll; 01-07-2012 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:35 PM   #10
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


Probably a loose/bad connection at the wall switch. Check for other connections behind the wall switch, such as a wire-nut on the white (neutral) wires.

Does the wall switch still get warm while the blo dryer is on? Did the bad smell go away after you changed out the switch?
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:20 PM   #11
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Heavier duty, and have clamp downs like gfci outlets do. Also, there could already be enough load on tht circuit, once you plug in the blow dryer, it of course is bringing you to the limit.

Bad thing about blow dryers, is people will keep th forever and never replace until they die. I am sure that if you just replace the wife's blow dryer, fix the backstabs, bet the problem will go away.

And tell her to start using the bath outlet vs bedroom. Also, you may want to put in afci breakers for yhe bedroom circuits, due to something of the mature you had, is how house fires start.

I have seen firsthand, what happens when a electrical line cam appear to be normal for hours, then burst into fire with no first sign on the outside of it happening.
The blow dryer has a GFI breaker on the end of it.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:22 PM   #12
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
14-2 is only rated for 15 amps.
Any new house would have to wired with 12-2 for 20 Amp.
Any loose connections will cause an over heat. Change the back stabs to around the screw and see if this helps.
But with 14-2 wire your about maxed out when trying to run more then just the hair dryer on that circut.
I'm sure some of the real elect. guys will be on here soon and get you straight.
There's been dozen or people on this site just trying to use space heaters on 14-2 wiring burning up outlets because of under sized wiring.
14-2 would be fine for lighting, but not heavy enough for outlets with that much draw.
Since when have you been required to wire bedroom plugs with 12/2 in new construction?
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:25 PM   #13
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


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Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
Probably a loose/bad connection at the wall switch. Check for other connections behind the wall switch, such as a wire-nut on the white (neutral) wires.

Does the wall switch still get warm while the blo dryer is on? Did the bad smell go away after you changed out the switch?
Yes the wall switch was warm, not sure if it was during or after. That's what I find odd. Why just the wall switch and not all the outlets since they are all daisy chained.

I was just checking the outlet where she plugged in the blower. Did not see any loose wires but did notice dust inside the outlet. Blew it away with my mouth, turned the breaker back on, and the outlet smelled.

I had an extra one so I decided to replace it also. Turned on the blower, tv and lights and let it run for 15 minutes. So far so good.
The real test is when she uses it for 30-60 minutes, that's when I will know.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:37 PM   #14
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Wall Switch Getting Hot


If shes having to use a hairdryer for 30-60 minutes to dry her hair id say she either needs a better hair dryer,or a hair cut!
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by plummen View Post
If shes having to use a hairdryer for 30-60 minutes to dry her hair id say she either needs a better hair dryer,or a hair cut!
Tell me about it-IT'S RIDICULOUS!

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