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Smoking GFI outlet in shop

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Forum topic by bondogaposis posted 01-14-2015 04:23 PM 1317 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1810 days


01-14-2015 04:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question shop electrical

I was happily working away yesterday when I turned on the planer. Suddenly the power went out and I smelled smoke, burning plastic. The GFI outlet that didn’t have anything plugged into was all black I took off the cover plate and it was a melted mess. Why would this happen? The outlets in my shop are 20 years old. I’m going to replace it today, but I would like to get to the cause of the problem, so I don’t burn my house down.

-- Bondo Gaposis


27 replies so far

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Redoak49

1933 posts in 1448 days


#1 posted 01-14-2015 04:56 PM

I have never encountered that…I have had them go bad and not function. Is the outlet for the planer wired to the GFI? You could be pulling to much amps thru the GFI.

I would check and make certain the circuit breaker is properly sized and OK. When you replace it check wires for damage. Also use a plug in outlet checker to assure it is wired right.

I would put a smoke detector in your shop for awhile and turn the breaker off for awhile when you are not in shop.

If you can not figure it out you may want to hire an electrician, It would give you some peace of mind.

Good luck

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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1810 days


#2 posted 01-14-2015 06:27 PM

Yes the planer is on the same circuit as the GFI outlet but plugged into another outlet.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

3663 posts in 1180 days


#3 posted 01-14-2015 06:30 PM

That GFI outlet is then failing. I ran into the same problem, only the GFI in the bathroom was only giving half voltage. In depth investigation revealed a bad neutral (on the same circuit) at an outdoor receptacle.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2322 posts in 1756 days


#4 posted 01-14-2015 06:43 PM

I had a 20 amp GFCI outlet go crispy on me. It fried the plug on an electric heater that was set to very low, with nothing else on. I don’t really know why it did it other than it was older.

If the insulation on the wire in your box is melted at all you can get color coded heat shrink tubing to fix it. Your outlets should be tied into the circuit with pigtails, not the LINE/LOAD method of connecting. That way you can eliminate other boxes on the circuit as a cause if something fails.

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Redoak49

1933 posts in 1448 days


#5 posted 01-14-2015 07:24 PM

The GFI is probably wired so that it protects down stream outlets. If so, the current for the planer is going thru the GFI.

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1373 posts in 1591 days


#6 posted 01-14-2015 07:30 PM

Thanks for these answers, I’ve certainly learned from the replies.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@outlook.com

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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1810 days


#7 posted 01-14-2015 08:15 PM

Yes, Redoak that is the situation, the planer is downstream from the GFI. I had the ambient air cleaner running and I had a battery maintainer running on an outside socket on the same circuit at the same time as the planer. Here is a picture of the damage.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2097 days


#8 posted 01-14-2015 10:43 PM

My GFI outlets in the shop have failed also – but not burned.

They generally begin to hum all the time and pass low voltage downstream.

After replaceing a couple, I got rid of at least 2 of them.

We had a freezer on one that kept tripping for no apparent reason – causing great distress at the prospect of ruined food.

I’m not convinced that these things add anything to safety – esp when powering motors.

-Paul

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Kazooman

623 posts in 1411 days


#9 posted 01-14-2015 10:52 PM

Bondo:

Good that you were dodged the bullet on what might have been a much more serous situation!

Looking at your picture raises a question in my mind. The charring all around the connector suggests arcing there, on the outside of the GFI. Perhaps it was a poorly seated connection that developed resistive heating under the load and not an internal failure of the GFI.

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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1810 days


#10 posted 01-14-2015 11:23 PM

Here’s the update. I replaced the GFI outlet and I also replaced the breaker w/ a AFCI breaker. I inspected all of the other outlets for potential problems, signs of heat, etc., didn’t find anything. I went back to work and finished my planing w/o any further problems. This is one of the reasons I am going to build a new shop next summer. The wiring in the garage is woefully inadequate.

Ocelot, I once lost a freezer full of food for that same reason. That circuit is no longer GFI.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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bigblockyeti

3663 posts in 1180 days


#11 posted 01-15-2015 02:56 AM

I’d be careful with those arc fault circuit interrupting breakers, many of them don’t like running universal motors as the brushes running on the commutator is constantly creating hundreds of arcs per second.

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runswithscissors

2173 posts in 1484 days


#12 posted 01-15-2015 06:21 AM

We had one in the kitchen go bad. It too got hot, but still functioned. I found melted plastic when I pulled it out to replace it. That one had a food processor working off it, but I don’t know whether that is a universal motor. Induction, I think, but possibly not.

I’ve had brand new ones bad right out of the box, and those aren’t from the BORG. But I think they are all from China now.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View loiey's profile

loiey

1 post in 687 days


#13 posted 01-15-2015 07:11 AM

Thanks for the great information. I’m always looking for fresh ideas and can’t wait to give some of these a try. Personally, I like to take cheap or free wood and “reclaim” it into cool woodworking projects, like island counters, tables, etc.

Regards,
loiey =)
http://www.thewoodworkerscorner.com

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bigblockyeti

3663 posts in 1180 days


#14 posted 01-15-2015 04:52 PM

The food processor almost certainly has a universal motor. The only motorized portable kitchen appliance I can think of that would have an induction motor is a bread machine and that might not be true of all of them, just the ones I’ve had apart.

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mahdee

3547 posts in 1227 days


#15 posted 01-15-2015 05:54 PM

I think there is a recommendation to replace all outlets, switches as well as water valves, etc., every 5 years. Not that I follow it, just saying.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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