Melted metal at outlet - Breaker never tripped

ardmiOctober 12, 2013

I wished I could take a picture to show. Today I found a circa 1960's outlet/wire behind my fridge scorched and I wonder if the damage is old or new.

There was about 1/4" of the wire, above the screw, where the insulation was burned. The 12g conductor was melted at that spot and was about half its diameter.

The portion was laying against the back of the outlet and melted a tiny spot on the back strap on the yolk.There was no burn or damage at the screw terminal although it didnt look like it was seated properly.

The fridge was working fine though and a breaker has never tripped that I know of.

I this was new damage and the wire was shorting out on the back of the outlet like that, why didnt the breaker trip?

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Ron Natalie

It probably wasn't a short. You had a poor connection that resulted in a lot of heat even though there wasn't enough current to trip the breaker. This is one of the reasons connections need to be made in boxes.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 6:45PM
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ardmi

That might make sense. However, theres metal on the yolk and it too was melted a bit where I presume the wire was pressing up against.

So there was a metal on metal contact. I figured that would have been an automatic dead short.

So with the hot wire melted to half its size (about a 1/8-1/4 of inch of it)... I would guess that would have failed immediately with the fridge compressor kicking on, or do you think that weakened portion could work for an extended period of time before totally breaking?

Just trying to rationalize if this just occured or happened a long time ago.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 7:57PM
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bus_driver

Flawed logic. A toaster gets red hot but does not trip the breaker. Welders generate 6000 degrees and some of them operate on 120 volt 20 amp circuits. Melting heat can be created without tripping breakers.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Ron Natalie

By the way, the thing holding the receptacle in place is a YOKE. Yolk is the center of the egg.

In addition to connections must be made in boxes, AFCIs also address the issue that certain wiring failures can cause a fire without exceeding the circuit ampacity.

This post was edited by ronnatalie on Sun, Oct 13, 13 at 9:20

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 8:15AM
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