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[icon] Is it possible to blow up an electrical outlet? - Patti
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Subject:Is it possible to blow up an electrical outlet?
Time:01:21 pm
Edit: Problem solved. Its buddy GFCI had tripped, and all I had to do was reset it.


Here's the setup:

There's a standard two-plug outlet over my kitchen counter. It's not a GFCI outlet, just a generic probably-a-buck-at-home-depot thing.

I had an extension cord plugged into it. The extension cord terminates in three plugs, and also has a power switch and a reset button. It was plugged into the kitchen outlet described above.

Last weekend I plugged my laptop charger into the extension cord, and there was a spark and a flash, followed by magic smoke escaping from the extension cord.

Results: the laptop charger is fine. I'm assuming that the extension cord is dead, and just throwing it away. More interestingly, both of the plugs at that outlet are dead. I pulled the plate off, and I see no obvious charrage or destruction.

I suspect that some liquid had gotten into the extension cord.

None of the circuit breakers has blown, and every other outlet in the neighborhood seems just fine.


So it seems likely to me that I managed to blow up something in the outlet. I'm tempted to just go spend a buck at Home Depot and replace the thing myself. Yes, I know how to do this, and I'm smart enough to turn the circuit breaker off first. OK, actually I'm tempted to put in a GFCI outlet, since it's a few feet from the sink.

Does my diagnosis seem sane?
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whitebird
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Time:2010-05-22 09:36 pm (UTC)
It's certainly a possibility to blow the outlet, yeah.

Another possibility is that sometimes breakers will pop but won't actually look like they've popped. I'd try physically cycling the breaker in question, just to be sure.

If you replace the outlet, I'd also go with the GFCI variety, just because.
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spicole
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Time:2010-05-22 09:54 pm (UTC)
Yup, it's possible to toast the outlet.

I agree, throw the extension cord away. Cycling the breaker is easy to do, also.

At the minimum replace the outlet, and put in a GFCI outlet if you can. All of your kitchen and bath outlets may already be on a GFCI circuit, even if that plug isn't labeled as such.
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yanijc
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Time:2010-05-23 01:39 am (UTC)
If it's anywhere near a sink it should, by code, be a GFCI. If it's set up correctly, one GFCI outlet can protect all the outlets on the same circuit.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-23 02:01 am (UTC)
Oh duh! I knew that, but it didn't even cross my mind. The well-hidden one on the other side was protecting it, and it had tripped. Problem solved.

Thanks!
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yanijc
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-23 05:09 am (UTC)
Hey, I was thinking more along the lines of - if you replace it, you should do it right, but I'm glad your outlets are setup correctly, and that that's all it was.

I've never seen magic smoke escape from an extension cord, that must have been exciting.
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songmonk
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-23 08:34 am (UTC)
I did not know that! This is going to save me grief in the future. (Both from being electrocuted, and from understanding why an outlet isn't working.)
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[icon] Is it possible to blow up an electrical outlet? - Patti
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