Reasons an outlet burnt out

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Old 10-17-17, 03:16 PM
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Reasons an outlet burnt out

I had a receptacle outlet burn out today. My tv/receiver (amongst other things) went off. I opened the media cabinet door and everything went back on, but I smelled and saw smoke.

There were 2 surge protectors/power strips plugged into the 2 outlets. One had black on it and I saw sparks when I unplugged it. I cut the breaker and took the receptacle out. Pic attached.

The receptacle was (as far as I know) properly installed. Wires still attached firmly to the screws (black wire burnt), no wing nuts or anything else in the box.

Neither fuse on the power strips tripped. The one power strip that had black on the prongs was old (maybe 10-15 years).

I replaced the outlet/burnt wiring and it works fine. My question is what could cause such a thing?

Nothing has changed in this configuration in 3 1/2 years. All equipment is fine.
 
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Old 10-17-17, 03:30 PM
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That is caused by a loose connection..... especially if the push-in terminals were used. Using the push-in connections should be avoided.
 
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Old 10-17-17, 03:33 PM
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That's the thing, even after the melting all the wires were screwed down tightly. Could there have been a nick in the insulation? Like I said though, 3.5 years and no changes so that is what surprised me.
 
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Old 10-17-17, 04:01 PM
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The tape around the receptacle indicates someone may have been concerned about the wires or how close they were to shorting out.
Does the power from this point continue on to other boxes?
Is the wire copper or aluminum?

Bud
 
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Old 10-18-17, 05:43 AM
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The wire is copper. Yes, it feeds another outlet behind the tv which is wall mounted.

Could an overload have caused this? Either a spike (though as I said no breaker flipped and the fuses on the surge protectors didn't engage) or too many items?

I have about 10 things plugged into these 2 outlets. The biggest draws would be a receiver and computer. The rest are things like a router, switch, modem, RF extender, etc. The TV is plugged into it's own outlet but fed off of this outlet.
 
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Old 10-18-17, 05:59 AM
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Most likely a plug in that receptacle unit did not fit tightly or had become oxidized. That caused the innards of the receptacle to heat up as well, and a tab connecting the upper half to the lower half may have broken at that moment, causing the downstream receptacles elsewhere in the room to go dead.

(Double check. Were all four screws still tight? Were any of the four push-in holes in back of the receptacle unit in use?)
 
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Old 10-18-17, 06:43 AM
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Can't tell now but if the plug went easy the tabs that connect to plug were worn out and outlet should of been replaced sooner.
 
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Old 10-18-17, 09:04 AM
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This problem can happen when amperes drawn is well below the breaker rating.

Whenever you plug or unplug something that is turned on (drawing power) you may see a spark at the plug.

(copied from another forum)

Perhaps this could be the reason why extension cords (including power strips) must be regarded as temporary.

The spring pressure of the receptacle holding the plug prongs, depending on usage wear, might be low enough to be subject to oxidation growing like mold and pushing the contacts apart causing a loose connection and the aforementioned problem. Unplugging and replugging all cords twice in quick succession (not vigorously or violently) every six months would be expected to clean the contacts sufficiently to avoid the problem with a receptacle that does not receive lots of wear from frequent connections and disconnections..

Properly tightened screw terminals would not be expected to have this problem.
 
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