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No one likes to get that call from the cops about the "small fire" at your mom's home, but I got that call today. Turns out an outlet started sparking enough to catch the curtains on fire, curtain burned and melted enough to fall into a clump and that's when the cop sprayed it with the dry chemical extinguisher. Mom's fine, they took her to the ER just to be sure and I picked her up a short time ago. House stinks like smoke and I need to replace the outlet. Nothing scarier than a 40 year old mobile home and the mention of fire. KevinT

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Boy that was a close call. Glad they got it out. Watch out for aluminum wire in those old trailers. Your mom's may not have it but it was popular in the 70's. Causes many fires.

Steamer
 

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Wow. You got the very best of a bad situation. Happened to be nearby when one went up in a trailer park during a high wind. Eight in a row were destroyed in about the time it takes to type this sentence. They went up like flash bulbs. Glad your mother is OK and the damage can be repaired.
 

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If that had bee at night when occupants had been sleeping this would have been a much sadder story.

Your mom was lucky.
 

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Hey KevinT,

Just my opinion for you and your mom as I work in the Fire department. After you finish repairing the damage,
1) Make sure to install a Carbon Monoxide detector and a Smoke detector (at best one smoke detector in the bedrooms and one in the common areas ex. living room hallway, we in the department recommend one of those 10 year sealed units that has the battery that lasts for 10 years).
2) If she is able to pick up an extinguisher I would get a 2A10BC Fire Extinguisher( I have one in my house)
 

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trailers

Most of the trailers I've dealt with don't use outlets that the wire is held in by screws, they use some cheap POS thing that relies on spring tension to keep a good connection, and after 40 years there isn't any tension left so you get outlet fires, even my dad's modular trailer which is only about 10 years old has them, probably would be a good time to go through the trailer and make sure there are no flammable items anywheres near an outlet!
 

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Most of the trailers I've dealt with don't use outlets that the wire is held in by screws, they use some cheap POS thing that relies on spring tension to keep a good connection, and after 40 years there isn't any tension left so you get outlet fires, even my dad's modular trailer which is only about 10 years old has them, probably would be a good time to go through the trailer and make sure there are no flammable items anywheres near an outlet!
In reading this post I had too ask myself what in a wall outlet would cause it to spark and burn and why did a fuze not blow. I recently bought some new wall switches for my basement room and they were the combination type that use either the screw in or plug in wire. I have always gone with the screw type. I also notice that the previous installer did not use a ground wire and the switches did not have a screw for it. There is a ground wire (I assume as it is bare) in one box but it appears to be screwed to the switch box. Also who ever did it did not use anything like the color codes you would expect. One box had two black wires and the other had an orange and black. That one had a white wire which I assume was ground but it came into the box and was connected to another white wire with a plastic twist cap and that wire went out the other way, again not connected to the switch which did not have a screw for it anyway. This was all done about forty years ago before I owned the home. Was this a standard practice back then?
 

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Switches do not use the neutral wire. They are a gate for the load worker only. Your white wire should be tied together in the back of that box.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update: Mom called the electrician that was there Thursday and he made a bee line for her place. He was worried that something he did in another area caused the problem, it did not. He removed the outlet and tied the wiring together and made installed a junction box. The outlet was marked do not use with copper wire but that's what the factory did 40 years ago! I had him change out another outlet in the bathroom that had signs of arcing. All should be good now. Thanks for everyone's concern. KevinT
 

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The outlet was marked do not use with copper wire but that's what the factory did 40 years ago!
Does that mean the trailer has aluminum wire or copper? If it's aluminum I would have the electrician check ever outlet and switch to make sure there are no connections,
Wally
 

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Because they are supposed to be grounded as well. Standard practice is to run power to overhead, then pull wire for switch and use the black and neutral(white) as both sides of the switch legs. A good electrician takes a few minutes to wrap the white wire, or as least run a loop of black tape around it for future reference. A lazy guy says F it if you are in a switch box you better be smart enough to know how they work.

Kevin, I would consider getting a new breaker on that line. The fact you had enough resistance to start a fire and it didnt pop is enough to warrant a new breaker. Its only one screw and clicking in place.
 

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40 years ago not much attention was paid to grounding boxes in NMC (romex) installations. In conduit installations the metallic conduit (if continuous) is supposed to supply the grounding path. There are three names for conductors, grounded (for the neutral which also cares part of the load supposed to be the white wire) un-grounded for the "energized" conductor which isn't always energized because of overcurrent protection fuse, breaker, switch which is supposed to be black or red) and GROUNDING conductor bare in romex green in conduit. The grounding conductor is used for ground fault protection and to ground all devices and the boxes in which they are installed. This will insure a breaker trip or blown fuse IF the breaker or fuse is properly sized. In fairly new installations the grounding conductors should extend all the way back to the service cabinet and terminate on the ground buss then the ground buss should be directly connected to the grounding electrode (ground rod) with a conductor separate from the neutral. Neutral conductors should be terminated on the neutral buss and not intermixed with grounding conductors on either buss. The grounding conductor carries no current unless a fault is occurs.

Devices used on aluminum wire should be marked CU/AL (copper or aluminum) The best quality devices are "self grounding" that is the mounting screw on the bottom has a small clip which grounds the device through the yoke mounting screw providing the box is also grounded. A separate connection to the grounding screw (green) on the device is not required.
 

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I don't know much about wiring but I pretty much understand how the black and white wires work. Although one set of instructions say to route a black wire to the dark screw and the white one to the light colored screw (the screws on the new switch are not colored) Maybe that only applied to three way switches.. I simply wired it the way it was before with two black wires to the switch. But the people who wired this place didn't pay too much attention to color codes and seemed to have run whatever color wire they had through the conduit. That is why I have one switch with one black and one orange wire in the one box where they both should have been black I guess. I understand the white as well but was confused by lack of a (bare) ground for the green terminal There is a bare copper wire in one switch box (attached to the box) but not the other. I am really not worried as it worked fine that way for forty years.
 

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By the way these are the switches I removed. OK they didn't come with the house. I exchanged them for the original ones as I got these from a old house and thought they looked cool. I finally decided that it was time to get rid of those 90 year old swithces




IMG_1730.jpg .
 

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Hey KevinT,

Just my opinion for you and your mom as I work in the Fire department. After you finish repairing the damage,
1) Make sure to install a Carbon Monoxide detector and a Smoke detector (at best one smoke detector in the bedrooms and one in the common areas ex. living room hallway, we in the department recommend one of those 10 year sealed units that has the battery that lasts for 10 years).
2) If she is able to pick up an extinguisher I would get a 2A10BC Fire Extinguisher( I have one in my house)
If you get an extinguisher - train on how to use it. There is a right and wrong way. Ask the fire dept guys to show you.


Brian -
Proud graduate of naval fire fighting and damage control schools......
 

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By the way these are the switches I removed. OK they didn't come with the house. I exchanged them for the original ones as I got these from a old house and thought they looked cool. I finally decided that it was time to get rid of those 90 year old swithces




View attachment 12954 .

These are really old, any thing with porcelain and push button snap switches dates from the introduction of electricity in the home to about 1940/45
 

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If you get an extinguisher - train on how to use it. There is a right and wrong way. Ask the fire dept guys to show you.


Brian -
Proud graduate of naval fire fighting and damage control schools......
There are no better firefighters on this or any other planet than DC's or every one on an oiler. Been through the firefighting schools in Bayonne and Portsmouth a couple of good guys and the unlimited supply of salt water and enough steam to keep the fire mains pressurized we could put out Hell and not get up a good sweat.
 
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