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Forum topic by Betsy posted 08-15-2008 07:16 AM 1066 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Betsy

2914 posts in 2647 days


08-15-2008 07:16 AM

I had a very scary experience tonight.

I want to get everyone to think about their electrical outlets.

My house was built in the early 70’s and as a result, it has a lot of aluminum wiring. There is nothing wrong with that type of wiring if it’s installed correctly. In fact, any wiring can have something go wrong with it.

Tonight when I went to bed I hit the remote to elevate my electric bed (it’s great for a bad back/neck) and sparks flew out of the wall. I’m sure it was not quite like the 4th of July, but it felt like it. I can honestly say I’ve not moved that fast in quite some time. I quickly unplugged the cord and reached for the wall to see if it was warm/hot. It was a touch warm. I am very thankful that I live close to a fire station. I called 911 and within 2 minutes tops I had 2 fire trucks and 3 supervisor cars with a contingent of firemen here.

The men went through my entire house and attic and checked everything out for me. They determined that the plug had worked it’s way loose and was sparking. When they plugged the cord back in it did it again and so we’ve determined that I need to get an electrician out here to replace my plugs and do a whole house electrical check. They went through and also used a piece of equipment that apparently can detect heat in the walls to check to be sure there was not any hot spots in the house. They turned off the breakers to that part of the house which makes me feel a bit more secure being here.

The other thing I am quite thankful for is cell phones. When I unplugged the cord, I also unplugged my phone – but I, thankfully, knew where my cell phone was and was able to call 911 very quickly. If it was not for cell phones I would have had to go knocking on doors to get someone to help me – those few minutes can mean a lot.

I must say it was a scary moment and I’m quite sure I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. In jumping out of bed I think I may have hurt my neck a little bit, so I’m going to have to see how that goes. I think it may just be the scare factor and stress – but I’m going to get out the medication and nip it in the bud.

Number one task tomorrow—- call the electrician – thankfully my boss has a good friend who is a qualified electrician. He’ll be getting some new business tomorrow.

Long and short though folks—- check those outlets.

And the next fireman you see——THANK HIM OR HER!

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!


27 replies so far

View Bigbuck's profile

Bigbuck

1347 posts in 2414 days


#1 posted 08-15-2008 07:23 AM

Glad no serious damage was done. One of my friends just lost their entire house to an electical fire, some things can never be replaced.

Thanks for the reminder and glad to hear it wasn’t any worse.

-- Glenn, New Mexico

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2535 days


#2 posted 08-15-2008 07:50 AM

View rikkor's profile

rikkor

11295 posts in 2626 days


#3 posted 08-15-2008 10:51 AM

I am very glad this was a near miss, and not a tragedy. You are thanking the right one in your title.

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2912 days


#4 posted 08-15-2008 12:38 PM

yikes…. scary stuff.
Glad you are ok.. now—take care of all those kinks you just gave your body!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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snowdog

1132 posts in 2734 days


#5 posted 08-15-2008 01:05 PM

I don’t like aluminum wiring. It may not need to be replaced but most home owners don’t take the steps needed to make it safe when re-wiring. And since many contractors are not at the top of their field it is something to keep an eye on.

My Dad is (was – he is to old now) a Fireman and he always told us, if you see a potential fire, call the fire department first then go try to put it out. I am glad your safe. Do you keep fire extinguishers around the house?

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2647 days


#6 posted 08-15-2008 01:24 PM

Thanks all. I’ve had a sleepless night. I’ll be anxious for the electrician to come this morning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked that outlet tonight – despite knowing the breaker is off.

Dave – Thankfully I don’t use many extension cords and the few I have are less than 2 years old. I’ve been wanting to replace my light fixtures and ceiling fans (they are original to the house and more than ugly), this may be my excuse to do so.

Snow – yes I keep extinguishers around. My Dad and brothers were all volunteer firefighters – so that was pretty much ingrained in me from a young age.

Your Dad’s advise is the same as my Dad’s—- if there is any doubt – err on the side of caution and call the fire department. In addition, you are doing your neighbors a disservice if you do not call at the slightest chance of a fire. Since we live so close to one another, a fire in my home can quickly become a fire in my neighbor’s home.

All in all a scary moment that I’m glad turned out OK.

Thanks for all your good thoughts.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View SteveKorz's profile

SteveKorz

2131 posts in 2465 days


#7 posted 08-15-2008 02:14 PM

Phew! Glad to hear you’re OK, Betsy… stuff like that can create a lot of “unknowns” and doubt in your mind about your house. Just remember, there are a lot of people here with lots of experience… ask them if you have questions about what the electrician is wanting to do and you don’t think he’s giving you the correct answer.

I’m glad all is well, good luck today.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Zuki's profile

Zuki

1404 posts in 2828 days


#8 posted 08-15-2008 03:10 PM

Whew . . . a wee bit of a close call. As the son of an electrician I have seen a few sparks in my day . . . some I caused myself. Glad to hear you are ok.

-- BLOG - http://www.colorfulcanary.com/search/label/Zuki

View CaptnA's profile

CaptnA

116 posts in 2564 days


#9 posted 08-15-2008 03:17 PM

Awfully glad to hear you and your home are safe!
It is indeed a scary thing to find yourself in need and at the hands of others. Sounds like YOUR quick reaction and actions are at least partly responsible for being safe. All too often people hesitate or “wait and see”. By the time there’s NO doubt help is needed, things have obviously progressed. Sometimes its too late~
This also applies to medical emergencies. I could tell you story after story but won’t (no thanks needed lol)
Sounds like they used a thermal imaging camera. It is much like the “flir” that we see on police video shows.
AWESOME technology. It is very expensive. Units may cost as much as $20,000. Some less, and they are coming down in price. Not every department can afford this technology. Sad but just how it is.
Thermal Imaging can show a hot spot in wiring within the wall, or an overheated ballast in the light in the ceiling. We can use it to find people in thick smoke where visibility is nonexistent. Truly a coming technology that can saves many lives and untold of dollars in prevented damage.
You are right, there is nothing inherently wrong with aluminum wiring. It may need a little maintenance as far as tightening connections like at outlets. I defer to electricians for details there.
BTW – fire prevention week is coming in October. People think its a kid’s thing. We get to target children in schools because of the masses. But fire safety is for everyone.
Test your smoke detectors.
Change the batteries in your smoke detectors when you change the time on your clocks.
Learn how to use a fire extinguisher BEFORE you need it.
Go with your instinct. If you think there is a problem, THERE IS. Its your home and your life. Don’t gamble with either. Call 911. Have good directions written down by the phone. You know how to get to your house. You have to give good directions to the pizza guy or he won’t come. What about 911? Is your house number visible and easy to see?
Yep. I can go on and on….
Glad you’re safe Betsy. Be safe all!

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2647 days


#10 posted 08-15-2008 10:04 PM

Thanks for all the thoughts folks. Needless to say, I’ve been sleeping most of the day since I spent most of the night checking that outlet even though I knew the power was off.

CaptnA—- you are right in all your comments. I woke up this afternoon thinking about those smoke detectors. Since I can’t get on a ladder, I’m going to ask a friend to come over to change my batteries. No since waiting, since I’m thinking about it.

This kind of excitement I can do without!

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Bob42's profile

Bob42

455 posts in 2541 days


#11 posted 08-16-2008 02:27 AM

Glad to hear all is OK

I for one have been to all to many of those type of fires and can’t stress enough like “CaptnA” smoke and CO detectors and have them checked.
What most people don’t know is that you should replace them about every ten years. They get dusty internally and become less effective.

I don’t care much for aluminum wiring but, if it’s connected correctly it’s OK.
NEVER worry about calling the fire dept. We are always happier to see a left intact rather than in rubble.

And to Snowdog: We’re never to old. Maybe broken and slower but never to old.

-- Bob K. East Northport, NY

View lew's profile

lew

10161 posts in 2506 days


#12 posted 08-16-2008 02:29 AM

Betsy,

Good to know you are safe and everything is under control. Hope you didn’t hurt your neck scrambling out of bed!

Lew

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2647 days


#13 posted 08-16-2008 03:23 AM

Thanks guys. The electrician has been here. It turns out the the wiring was still tight so it was not arcing. Instead the outlet itself had just worn out.

I have to admit that I am glad that the firemen and the electrician turned on the power and plugged in the cord and had the same effect I did. I’m not sure they believed me when I told them what happened and they did not see any burn marks on the outlet or the wiring.

The electrician is quite certain the rest of my system is OK and that I do not need to replace the cord that was involved in this incident. However, I think I will still replace that cord. It’s not that expensive and the peace of mind is worth it to me.

Bob – I’ve never had a CO detector. Aren’t those for houses with gas furnaces?

Lew – as to my neck. I did hurt it a little bit I think. But I’m pretty sure it’s just muscular from the quick movements. I have reverted back to my original dosage on the muscle relaxants and that seems to be helping. If it does not feel better by Monday, I’ll go back to the doctor to be sure. But I really think it was the “scare” and “stress” factors that just tightened me up.

Thanks all for your concern.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Karson's profile

Karson

34916 posts in 3152 days


#14 posted 08-16-2008 04:36 AM

There is a tube of compound that is available at HD and Lowes. It is used to put on the wires when you have aluminum and the switches which are for copper wire. It’s a dielectric conductive grease. It stops corrosion at the contact point.

It is also useful to put on the bulb threads before you screw the bulb into your ceiling fixtures.

We’ve all had the condition where the bulb breaks off when you try to unscrew it.

Perdue (the chicken people) are requesting that all of their chicken growers go to the compact fluorescent bulbs and they are recommending this compound on the threads of the bulbs. The bulbs are a lot more fragile and they don’t want broken glass on the floors of the chicken houses.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2647 days


#15 posted 08-16-2008 04:41 AM

Thanks Karson. That’s probably a good idea. I’ve had bulbs get stuck. The stubs are hard to get out.

I wonder if the Perdue people’s motivation is not just the broken glass but the chance of having mercury on the floor. That’s the pessimist in me coming out.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

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