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Posted: 1/30/2006 5:00:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/30/2006 5:25:55 AM EDT by soowah]
Close enough for me anyway.

Tanlegsintx was leaving for work this morning and said she smelled some 'gas' in the downstairs bathroom. I had been up since about 3am, and had not smelled anything. I checked it out and it smelled familiar but just thought it was from the fire logs from lastnight. Anyway, sat down and suddenly remembered that smell from work. Ozone caused by acring, burning wires ect.

So I race back to the bathroom and touch test every electrical device, vanity light ok, light switch ok GFCI hot as shit. I tripped the GFI test switch it activated reset it and it reset quickly went to the garage and killed the main 20A breaker, LOTO the breaker switch, make sure it is firmly seated ( I hate those stab-lock breakers ). I pull the plate off the receptical and can see some melted wires at the HOT side of the terminal. I pull everything out and this is what I see.









It's been just about 15 years since I've done residential wiring, but I don't think GFCI's are supposed to do this. It is a no name brand made in China.

We use Nitrogen purges at work to keep an oxygen depleated envoronment around our electronics (prevents flash) But I feel this could have gotten bad had the plastic material reached flash point.

It does not look miswired to me, possibly a MFG defect.

My question is: Should I call the Fire Martal to document this. Obviously the threat is contained.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:20:30 AM EDT
I know it will be hard to tell with the insulation melted off, but do you think you may have had a direct short before the outlet. Maybe a small nick on the hot wire was finding something to rub against?

R.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:25:38 AM EDT
I just cant tell, the wires cracked and split about 2" past the terminal.



Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:29:46 AM EDT
Called the Fire Martial and he had a truck roll this morning. They ran a thermal scan of the wall, (cool shit right there) and checked the attic. Good bunch of guys and gal


My thanks to the Wylie FD

Guess my dontations to the "Fill the Boot Drive" this year will go from $5 to $20
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:52:51 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 6:12:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ilikelegs:
Good catch on your part. Way to think things through and find the problem.




I get paid to do this crap at work, it's Saturday morning for me, WTF!
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 6:28:03 AM EDT
Soowah


Welcome to the club

For me it's always on a weekend and always after midnight and before 4:00am.

LOL

shooter100
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 7:27:37 AM EDT
GFI's can go bad I've replaced alot of them in my business including my own house same situation as yours, luckly i was in the garage at the time.

When u replace the GFI use the SCREWS not the pos quick connect (they don't connect good enough) and make sure the wire wraps around the screw completely and they r good and tight. Check all the
GFI's in your house there may be more than one. Also test your smoke alarms.

Good save
FireBlade
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:12:07 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 8:22:38 PM EDT
Soowah,
Unless your GFCI is at the end of the circuit, you should have your line(wires coming into the receptacle) connected to the terminals that are uncovered by the strip of plastic, and the load wires(wires going to the next receptacle in the circuit) should be connected to the terminals under the plastic strip with the text printed on it. Obviously, you have to remove the strip first. Your picture seems to indicate you connected both neutrals(white) and both hots(black) to the line terminals. I don't know if this was a factor in your component failure, but at the very least, it seems to be incorrectly wired. Just my humble observations. Good luck.
Peace,
Dragonfire52
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 7:40:11 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/31/2006 8:07:26 AM EDT by Dano523]
You have burn on both the home run and down line leg.
Chances are the wires just were shorting oxidized and caused the heat at the illegal connection point (NEC’s since the device is not rated for the down line load), but I would still track down line see if you may have a exhaust fan or a florescent lights (transformer) that is going south and causing the problem over just the bad connection point.

Circuit coming into the bathroom should be the GFI as the first device in the wet area, then hit the ceiling lights, exhaust fan and any other plugs off the secondary (the terminals on the GFI that still have the tape on them). Pisses me off when residential sparkies use the device as the junction device (the screw, but even worse in your case he used the clips that are not rated for such), and when you install the new GFI, Use the screws (not the spring loaded clips). Furthermore, the down line leg for the bathroom circuit should be wired to the secondary (threw the GFI circuit) and not junction off the device primary side leg. This rates everything down line GFI protected, instead of just the device only like now.

Hate to say it, but you need to go threw all the devices in the house and check the connections. The splice points should be wire nutted together before the devices, with tails off the termination points to the devices via the screws (using the clips is a short waiting to happen).

Trust me, just seeing the one device is enough to tell me that the rest of wiring in the house is a mess as well. If this is a new'ish house, I would get the builder on the phone and let him know that he has some corrections to do, or you will get the lawyers involved and have his license revoked (both his as the contractor and the electrical contractor as the sub contractor who performed the work).

Link Posted: 1/31/2006 8:48:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dano523:
Circuit coming into the bathroom should be the GFI as the first device in the wet area, then hit the ceiling lights, exhaust fan and any other plugs off the secondary (the terminals on the GFI that still have the tape on them). Pisses me off when residential sparkies use the device as the junction device (the screw, but even worse in your case he used the clips that are not rated for such), and when you install the new GFI, Use the screws (not the spring loaded clips). Furthermore, the down line leg for the bathroom circuit should be wired to the secondary (threw the GFI circuit) and not junction off the device primary side leg. This rates everything down line GFI protected, instead of just the device only like now.



Why would you want to do that? Why put other devices like lights and fans? When I wire GFCI in my bathrooms, I always wire the downstream stuff to the LINE - not the LOAD.... because I dont want those other devices tripping the GFCI.... when they dont need to be protected. The only time I connect to the LOAD, is like in the kitchen, when I want to protect a string of 4 outlets with one GFCI.

I dont see anything wrong with the wiring or code - this was a GFCI device, wired with the downstream on the LINE circuit....

I agree - never use the push terminals, always screws, and then I wrap black tape around the outlet before I insert it in the bax.

I agree - with this wiring configuration - it is possible that a downstream device could have created the extra load, and caused the failure of the terminals on the GFCI box.... I would absolutely inspect the devices that are downstream.
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 8:52:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dragonfire52:
Soowah,
Unless your GFCI is at the end of the circuit, you should have your line(wires coming into the receptacle) connected to the terminals that are uncovered by the strip of plastic, and the load wires(wires going to the next receptacle in the circuit) should be connected to the terminals under the plastic strip with the text printed on it. Obviously, you have to remove the strip first. Your picture seems to indicate you connected both neutrals(white) and both hots(black) to the line terminals. I don't know if this was a factor in your component failure, but at the very least, it seems to be incorrectly wired. Just my humble observations. Good luck.
Peace,
Dragonfire52



Doesnt look miswired to me.... looks like it is wired per the instructions.... for installing a GFCI receptacle, and only allowing that receptacle to be GFCI protected. That is why they place a second terminal for the LINE connection.

Perhaps - if a downstream electrical deviced cuased the overload, and the downstream circuit would have been connected to LOAD, this would have been prevented by tripping the GFCI.... but one never knows.
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 10:34:49 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/31/2006 10:36:43 PM EDT by Delta]
Electrical install is what I do for a living.. Licensed Electrician

Did your wife use a hairdryer or curling iron prior to the smell starting?

The GFCI was mis-wired according to your picture.

Line side coming in should have have been seperated from the load going out to other plugs.

Link Posted: 2/1/2006 4:51:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Delta:
Electrical install is what I do for a living.. Licensed Electrician

Did your wife use a hairdryer or curling iron prior to the smell starting?

The GFCI was mis-wired according to your picture.

Line side coming in should have have been seperated from the load going out to other plugs.





That is the funny part, I've been playing with this for a few days now. It appears that EVERY bathroom GFCI runs through the same circuit. This is a guest bathroom (1 of 3) so yes, technically she was running a hair dryer/ and 2 space heaters on this circuit. . This also appears to be the only one that is used as a lug/tap, all others are wirenutted at the line. The other bath, not master, is wired correctly to an additonal non-GFI receptical. Looks like someone f-ed up. I'm having the builder come out and take a look at it. next week.

Anyway, looks like everthing is normal now, I bought a new GFCI and wired it up correclty. I'm guessing that a helper screwed it up <shrug>. But, I'll let the builder have a piece of my foot mind.

Link Posted: 2/1/2006 7:13:17 AM EDT

Originally Posted By soowah:

Originally Posted By Delta:
Electrical install is what I do for a living.. Licensed Electrician

Did your wife use a hairdryer or curling iron prior to the smell starting?

The GFCI was mis-wired according to your picture.

Line side coming in should have have been seperated from the load going out to other plugs.





That is the funny part, I've been playing with this for a few days now. It appears that EVERY bathroom GFCI runs through the same circuit. This is a guest bathroom (1 of 3) so yes, technically she was running a hair dryer/ and 2 space heaters on this circuit. . This also appears to be the only one that is used as a lug/tap, all others are wirenutted at the line. The other bath, not master, is wired correctly to an additonal non-GFI receptical. Looks like someone f-ed up. I'm having the builder come out and take a look at it. next week.

Anyway, looks like everthing is normal now, I bought a new GFCI and wired it up correclty. I'm guessing that a helper screwed it up <shrug>. But, I'll let the builder have a piece of my foot mind.




Go to Lowes/Home Depot and get yourself a plug tester with GFCI test capability. They are like $8. Well worth it. You might find that your non GFCI outles are also protected (or not) by upstream GFCI plugs, or GFCI breakers. Only way to know is to use the tester.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 7:21:33 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/1/2006 8:12:04 AM EDT by FALARAK]
For those who state it is miswired - that is not correct according to the instructions that came with my GFCI outlets.

homerepair.about.com/od/wiring/ss/gfci_install_4.htm

This site shows exactly the same wiring used in soowah's house. The feed comes into the first LINE connections.

Then, if you want to protect other devices (up to 4 outlets) you plug the wires into the LOAD clamps.

Or, if you want to feed other devices and NOT protect them with GFCI when not required (ie - a refrigerator outlet, lighting, fans, etc...) you plug these into the LINE clamps.

Granted - a pigtail is a more solid way of feeding other LINE devices, but I do not believe that is a code requirement.

This is a simple issue of some downstream device using too much amperage, or a failure of the terminals on the GFCI outlet.... IMHO. I am not an electrician, however... but I did research code requirements when I upgraded my house to GFCI outlets in my kitchens and bathrooms.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 7:22:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/1/2006 8:12:28 AM EDT by FALARAK]

Originally Posted By Delta:
Electrical install is what I do for a living.. Licensed Electrician

The GFCI was mis-wired according to your picture.

Line side coming in should have have been seperated from the load going out to other plugs.



Can you further explain this being miswired? Or are you just assuming there are other plugs that would need to be GFCI protected? I'd like to understand better.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 1:44:27 PM EDT
A GFCI protects by detecting an imballance in the incoming and outgoing current. Whearas a non-GFI breaker detects arching by high current (energizes an electromagnet to disconnect the breaker).

I just don't remember what NEC says about using a GFI as a junction but since that is a poorer connection than a wirenut, I would think it's a no no, that's my opinion. I just don't like using it that way. It is a viable electrical connection though.

However in my particular instance, since no current was going through that particular receptical at the time it had to be a bad connection of some sort, which the main breaker should have caught.


Thanks Falarak, I had forgotten about GFI tester, don't they just test for correct wiring? With GFCI breakers you can cheat the current detect by removing the pigtail from ground, wonder if the same is true with the recepticals as well? <anyone>
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 2:08:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By soowah:
Thanks Falarak, I had forgotten about GFI tester, don't they just test for correct wiring?



No - the standard testers do that. The more expensive GFCI models have a button on them which will trip the GFCI in an outlet or breaker. I use it when testing downstream outlets to ensure they are also protected.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 4:31:50 PM EDT
Im glad you caught your short early. As TRG stated, my house burnt last year. The plug that caused the fire was in the guest room in a corner next to a few boxes of clothes. There wasnt anything plugged into any of the plugs in the room. All we can figure was that the wires were plugged into the back of the recepticle (not eyed up) and had corroded enough to heat up. Needless to say, the new house is wired MUCH better and smoke alarms are wired into the alarm system.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 6:13:59 PM EDT
Melted insulation indicates to me over amping, direct short, and that should have at least tripped the breaker....right? Even if the GFI didn't trip, that has to have sent some sort of spike back to the panel...

Why didn't the circuit breaker trip?
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