air conditioner safety questions

jallyAugust 7, 2011

I just bought two 5000 BTU air conditioners.

I'll abbreviate them to "AC" if y'all don't mind.

Here's the specs:

I then had a wiring guy connect my 2-prong bedroom outlet to the grounded wire (which he said was already there), thereby replacing the 2-hole plugs with 3-hole plugs.

The air conditioners were then installed in aforesaid bedroom, and also the kitchen (which already had grounded outlets in place).

Thing is, the cord of the bedroom's AC did not quite reach the outlet (note: the bedroom AC is a temp installation and will hopefully soon be relocated within reach of the outlet, once the 50s windows are retrofitted).. for now, I plugged it into this exact 3-ft. extension cord:

...which I then plugged into a heavy-duty TIME-ALL Intermatic 15-amp grounded timer (in order to test the timer which someone gave me, since I want to use the AC with a timer).

Here's a pic of the timer:

The timer was then plugged into the aforesaid bedroom outlet.

I then ran the AC on Low-Cool for an hour (sufficient to see that the timer was working fine).

I then noticed that the timer had become very hot to the touch. So I decided to test the timer via the identical model Frigidaire AC which had been installed in the kitchen window within reach of a long-established grounded outlet.

The problem is, that because:

(1) the outlet is an upside-down configuration (with the grounded holes above the hot/neutral holes)


(2) molding which was frustratingly placed surrounding the upper part of the outlet-cover...

...therefore, I can't test the kitchen AC with the timer, since the molding prevents the timer from plugging in sufficiently to make a connection.

(interestingly, the AC plug does manage to make a connection in that same outlet).

When I tested the kitchen AC with its plug directly in the outlet, the plug remained cool to the touch after running the AC for awhile.

I'm hoping to use timers with both the air conditioners to save on electricity, but running into all the above-mentioned obstances & not sure what to do.


Testing the bedroom AC with the 3-ft. extension cord plugged directly into the wall (without the timer) for at least an hour. And then see if the plug of extension cord gets hot. I may do that soon, at next opportunity.

But I'd still be left with the question of how to get a timer to connect into my frustrating, upside-down kitchen outlet.

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Why not just change the outlet.
Turn off the power
remove outlet cover
remove two screws holding the outlet in
rotate outlet, no wires need to be removed
replace two screws
replace cover

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 7:39AM
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Ron Natalie

To bolster what Hendricus says...there's no "UP" or "DOWN" to the receptacle. Ground pin on top or bottom makes no difference as far as the code goes. Some people have strong opinions on function or appearance issues one way or the other.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:10AM
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Yes, i thought of it, but can I use latex gloves instead?

Because, even though I know where the switch box is in the basement, it's been a long time since I've fooled with the switches. I remember my dad instructing something to the effect of pulling a particular switch all the way over to the left (i think) and then releasing it. I seriously doubt I'd remember how to do it right, because I lack a photographic memory..

Aside from that, even if I accomplish that feat, I still would not be able to plug both:

and this:

..because the horizontal wall molding (that separates the upper wallpaper from lower) surrounds the upper part of the outlet cover, thereby preventing me from plugging in the timer and the adapter mentioned above.

I don't know which is the best solution:

Sawing off some molding to make room?

or maybe: trying to find another adapter, even though this one has suited me fine for my two microwaves & radio, all these years.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 10:50PM
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You want to use one timer, one 3 foot extension cord and then the AC power cord, right?

So, plug the cord in to the outlet, the timer into the 3 foot cord and then the AC power cord.

The timer doesn't really care where it is as long as it is in the power line.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 12:47AM
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Latex gloves won't protect you! it is important to disconnect power at the breaker before doing any work. If the outlet orientation bothers you (it doesn't need to be changed), solicit an electrician or a knowledgeable friend to help out and verify power's disconnected before touching anything.

Follow hendricus's example - that should get things operational and should be all you need.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 12:19PM
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Thanks henricus & Marc!

Actually in the kitchen I don't need an extension cord, and also, the bedroom extension was just meant to be temporary, until the permanent installation (i.e. when replacement windows will be installed, enabling the AC to move closer to bedroom outlet.

But in fact, I had been wondering if I could do something similar to henricus' suggestion in the kitchen.


a TINY extension cord (preferably two inch), or else:
a 15-amp version of this six-incher:

Does no place offer the above in 15 amp & very short?

Thanks again! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: 6 inch extension cord

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 1:07AM
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P.S. I just found a different pic (see below) - but not sure if it's 15 amp, and anyway, it's out of stock at microcenter (and not sure if local Radio Shack carries it.

Here is a link that might be useful: 10 inch power adapter cable

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 1:19AM
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If you are using an extension cord, no matter how short, it needs to be heavy duty for this application. I can tell just looking at the ones you posted that they are light duty, possibly 16ga, and would be a fire hazard. You need something like the one below, at minimum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heavy duty cord

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 2:19AM
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You can also make your own heavy duty extension cord. All the materials are available in the big box stores. That's what I did for my table saw. I couldn't get a heavy duty extension in the length I wanted. My saw will run on a 15 amp circuit, but I wanted a heavier duty cord so I'd never have to worry about a 15 amp cord overheating. (I'm always hesitant to run high draw appliances on extension cords, even when the cord is rated for 15 amps).

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 11:09AM
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kudzu, re: safety, were you referring to the link which I had posted (depicting my 3-ft. Coleman Cable extension cord) - as not safe?
(posting it again - see below)

Another question I have is regarding Brinks timers from Walmart. They have two analog timers.

Model 42-1034B-4 (good for use with AC?
Model 42-1020-4 (good for use with AC?

Which of the above models would you recommend? I haven't a clue if either is good.

BTW, I know most people recommend digital timers but I prefer analog (cheap, simple, less EMFs).

Here is a link that might be useful: coleman cable

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:18PM
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P.S. can I safely:

(1) Plug the yellow jacket extension cord into outlet, then:

(2) Plug a 15-amp timer into one of the triple-sockets of the yellow jacket

(3) Plug my 5000 BTU air conditioner into the timer

(4) Plug my microwave into a yellow-jacket-socket adjacent to the timer (would there be room, once the timer is plugged in?

(5) Be able to operate the microwave
.....(powered via the yellow jacket extension)
at the same time as operating the air conditioner that's plugged into the timer
.....(the combo of which is also powered via the yellow jacket extension)?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:41PM
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uh oh, I just realized that my basic 3 foot extension cord would not work in the kitchen
(i.e. it can't plug in)

Since a pic is worth a 1000,
here's the pic of the extension cord,
as well as the plug of the air conditioner,
as well as the crazy outlet:

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:19PM
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To be continued via a new posting (where I'll post my pic again, to start fresh)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:24PM
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a) you want a timer that is specifically rated for heavy duty applainces or specifically for aircondtioners. mechanical one are about $15 and digital ones $20-$25.

B) your quesiton on determining how to turn off a breaker or how to determine if the braker is off and your consideration of latex gloves makes me beleive you are not the person to open a receptacle to even just turn the receptacle around. that is no judgment on you, you may have lots of other skills people who can do that don't have. you don't need an electrician but you do want someone who has done it before.

how old is your home? from the pics it looks pretty old. the wiring and insulation is already degraded from age use. power strips, extension cords, and receptacle multipliers pictured are meant for light duty appliances, not fitting microwaves and air-conditioners.
Can you aggregate the "amps" on the appliances you are attempting to plug in? those are all on visable labels on your appliances.

As others have mentioned the lenght of extension cords, more importantly the gauge or thickness, and the number of connections, cord to timer, to cord, to multiplier, increase resistance, tiny arching etc.

not jsut each length, but each connection icreases increases the resistanc eof the circuit.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:21PM
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