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need help from electricity nerds: [Aug. 6th, 2007|06:16 pm]
Just me.
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I was using the electric weedwacker. There was a weird smell, so I turned it off. The larger prong on the plug was blackened and smelled charred.

this is most likely caused by:

1) faulty weedwacker
2) faulty extension cord
3) faulty electricity source (3 pronged outlet, but could it be badly grounded? how would I know?)
4) user error (I've used the weed wacker for similar amounts of time in the past, but maybe I somehow overdid it?)

also, if I scrub the charred stuff off the prong, is it safe to use the weedwacker again? Can one replace the weedwackers plug for less than the cost of a new weedwacker? it's less than 5 years old and is a black and decker, so I'm suprised to see it failing (for whatever reason).

in a possibly related occurance, I was vaccumming last week for about 2 hours (cat hair + drapes + rugs = several passes before a room is "done") and the vaccum got very hot, so I turned it off to cool down. 2 hours later I plugged it in and the switch would not turn the vaccuum on. I only mention this in case there's an obvious "OMG you have too much electricity coming out of the outlets and it will eventually destroy anything you plug in" explanation.

advice?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: das_prompt
2007-08-06 11:49 pm (UTC)
As far as my limited understanding goes, I'm guessing a faulty power source is pretty uncommon. If that was the case, I'm pretty sure there are more sensitive appliances that would act up first.

I'm might be totally wrong.
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[User Picture]From: mad_eponine
2007-08-07 04:55 am (UTC)

line trimmer?

So, let's see: outlet -> extension cord -> weedwacker. It was the plug from weedwacker to the extension cord that fried?

I'm guessing that the plug itself has gotten old and faulty and, like rone said, it sparked. plugs tend to go bad since they see a lot of abuse due to normal wear and tear as well as to abuse in general (like pulling a plug out by the cord, for example). Plugs for lawn care equipments are notorious for going bad.

As for the vacuum, you should probably get some sort of water-based cooling system for it if you plan on using it for that long a period of time. Case-mod'ing it with cold cathode lighting would also be cool. Don't forget ground effects. :) :) :)

Cat hair could have plugged up the filter and impeded air flow to where it was not moving enough air to cool it. Damn cats.jj

As for your outlets, hardware stores sell cheap little outlet testers that plug into your outlets. They have LEDs to indicate whether the wiring is OK, whether the polarity is reversed (not really a biggie, many older American homes probably disregard polarity), and whether outlets are really grounded.

In older vintage homes in which the electricity hasn't been re-wired entirely, I highly doubt that 3-prong grounded outlets are actually properly grounded or even grounded at all. And, like I said, the polarity may even be reversed. Back in the day, nobody really cared about proper polarity for AC (since it didn't matter as much as in DC circuits). Witness the fact that the different sizing of prongs is a relatively new development --and that some appliances still have same-sized prongs.

If your appliances were drawing too much power, the breaker/fuse should trip before anything bad happens to the wiring or your appliance. Generally speaking, most household circuits run with 20 (sometimes 15) amp breaker/fuses... electric stoves, heaters, dryer, etc. use higher amperages.

I wouldn't worry about too much electricity flowing out of the outlets but, just in case, I'd put a bucket underneath them to catch the excess electrons...



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[User Picture]From: lara7
2007-08-07 03:39 pm (UTC)

Re: line trimmer?

>I'm guessing that the plug itself has gotten old and faulty.

I suppose, but it's less than 5 years old and only gets used in the summer. and I never pull things by the cord.Which is why I'm suspecting ungrounded outlets causing trouble.

The advice to get an outlet tester is good, I will do that. As for the electron buckets, is there an ANSI standard that I should look for? I'd hate to use a non-compliant container and make the problem worse...
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[User Picture]From: dirtylibrarian
2007-08-08 10:10 am (UTC)

Re: line trimmer?

When my uncle was here visiting last year, he noticed the black charing on the plug of my weedwacker, just as you describe...and he unplugged it, cut it off, and rewired a new thing on the end. I had only had it 3 years...but we give those things a workout, no?
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[User Picture]From: mad_eponine
2007-08-09 04:28 am (UTC)

Re: line trimmer?

It's possible that the plug/outlet that the plug is plugging into is faulty. The contacts could be loose enough to cause some shorting and, thus, charring.

Hmm, oh dear. I don't know about any standards for electron buckets. Growing up Polish, we never paid no mind to such things as standards or safety; it's the DIY "Stanley Engineering" way! If you want the job done right --instead of using old pie tins, for example-- you should call a certified, union-affiliated master electrician.
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