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Thread: Crock Pot Sparks

  1. #1
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    Crock Pot Sparks

    First let me state that all receptacles in our kitchen will be replaced by an electrical contractor during a complete kitchen remodel that starts in about 3 weeks. So this is not a DIY situation.

    Two days ago, my wife plugged in a crock pot (in the lower half of a duplex receptacle), turned it on, and saw sparks flying. The breaker tripped, there is black discoloration on the receptacle itself (I haven’t tried to clean it yet – it might just be on the surface), there is damage to the plug, and the wire entering the pot is almost completely burnt through. She is fine. The crock pot has been discarded. The light that is plugged into the upper half of the same duplex is still working.

    Question: Is there likely to be a safety hazard? Should we avoid plugging anything into the lower half of this duplex? Should we unplug the light, and avoid using the duplex entirely? Three weeks from now it will no longer matter. But if the receptacle is still functional and safe, then I will clean the outside and let things be plugged into it.
    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie b View Post
    First let me state that all receptacles in our kitchen will be replaced by an electrical contractor during a complete kitchen remodel that starts in about 3 weeks. So this is not a DIY situation.

    Two days ago, my wife plugged in a crock pot (in the lower half of a duplex receptacle), turned it on, and saw sparks flying. The breaker tripped, there is black discoloration on the receptacle itself (I haven’t tried to clean it yet – it might just be on the surface), there is damage to the plug, and the wire entering the pot is almost completely burnt through. She is fine. The crock pot has been discarded. The light that is plugged into the upper half of the same duplex is still working.

    Question: Is there likely to be a safety hazard? Should we avoid plugging anything into the lower half of this duplex? Should we unplug the light, and avoid using the duplex entirely? Three weeks from now it will no longer matter. But if the receptacle is still functional and safe, then I will clean the outside and let things be plugged into it.
    My thoughts from here, it's fine, just don't use that receptacle. Guessing the crock pot cord end was the culprit?
    Tom
    TBLO

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptonsparky View Post
    Guessing the crock pot cord end was the culprit?
    That's what I think. But I didn't do an autopsy. I am calling it a natural ending due to old age. We've had that crock pot for at least 15 years.
    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie b View Post
    That's what I think. But I didn't do an autopsy. I am calling it a natural ending due to old age. We've had that crock pot for at least 15 years.
    You are aware that old age hasn't been an accepted explanation for end of life since the late 50s?
    Tom
    TBLO

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    Too bad you didn't have AFCI protection it would have been nice to see if things tripped. Pull that crock pot back out of the trash and hold onto it for a few weeks.
    Tom
    TBLO

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptonsparky View Post
    Too bad you didn't have AFCI protection it would have been nice to see if things tripped. Pull that crock pot back out of the trash and hold onto it for a few weeks.
    He said breaker tripped though. Probably on magnetic trip function. Presumably AFCI breakers have thermal magnetic function also.
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie b View Post
    That's what I think. But I didn't do an autopsy. I am calling it a natural ending due to old age. We've had that crock pot for at least 15 years.
    15 years? That's adolescence for a crock pot. Our wedding gift crock pot is still going strong after 37 years.
    Gregg

    I'm just here for the pictures!

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    I would have done and autopsy.
    Cheers and Stay Safe,

    Marky the Sparky

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    Based upon your description, Charlie, it sounds like the cord, at the side of the crock pot, was a line to neutral short.

    The activity at the receptacle was probably a "series" event of a small point of contact between male and female that "fused", i.e., melted like a fuse element at the higher current in the short, giving rise to a plasma that would boil the metal to gas which would redeposit itself as the black mark.
    Another Al in Minnesota

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    Since the cord was almost burned through entering the crock pot, that is likely the failure point, due to fatigue from being wiggled going from place to place. That's my wild guess.
    Gregg

    I'm just here for the pictures!

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