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-   -   Houston...we almost had a big problem (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/houston-we-almost-had-big-problem-368423/)

Triple9 11-17-2012 06:57 PM

Houston...we almost had a big problem
 
Started heating my HLT up today and went upstairs while the water was heating. Went to check on it about 15 minutes later and noticed the smell of plastic in the air. Shut everything down, opened up the toolbox that holds my panel and a bunch of smoke comes out. One of the terminals is melting and probably would have started a fire if I waited much longer.

I'm using a pretty standard configuration. 30 amp breaker at the Box, spa panel, 5500W Camco heater element. Leviton 2626F 30 amp locking receptacle as well as a leviton 30 amp locking plug. Wires appear perfectly fine, not blackened.

Only thing I can think is I hadn't tested the GFCI recently, it failed and a terminal wire loosened. I've brewed around 7 or 8 batches without issue with this setup.

Any other thoughts about what might have happened and best way to rectify it?

jsguitar 11-17-2012 07:25 PM

Glad you're ok. That's pretty scary.

Which terminal was it that melted exactly?

A loose connection is a real possibility. Was it a crimp connector? The reason I ask is because there's been some discussion about weak crimps and this kind of thing happening.

Triple9 11-17-2012 07:55 PM

Yeah, not the greatest feeling thinking about what could have happened.

It was one of the hot wires and right at the receptacle, so no crimp. Screwed down.

runs4beer 11-17-2012 08:46 PM

We are going to need to see some pictures of this, for education purposes of course.

Triple9 11-17-2012 10:35 PM

No worries. Probably be a day or two before I pull it apart and take some shots.

rcbishop 11-17-2012 10:45 PM

My first thought is the wire wasn't connected well enough.

With a decent amount of current flowing, you want to make sure every connection is cranked down tight, and has a lot of metal-to-metal contact.

Also, the wire-around-the-screw connections really need to be done with solid wire. Stranded really needs terminals crimped on, or at least tinned.

Triple9 11-18-2012 01:51 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Ok, dismantled it and here's what we have. I do believe i will switch to solid core when I put the new receptacle in. Thanks for the heads up. I have a ton of it lying around, so should be an easy fix.

Sock 11-18-2012 02:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Triple9 (Post 4599796)
Ok, dismantled it and here's what we have. I do believe i will switch to solid core when I put the new receptacle in. Thanks for the heads up. I have a ton of it lying around, so should be an easy fix.

Loose terminal screw.

I see it all the time at work. I'm an electrician, and stranded wire is better than solid in my opinion. my .02

whoaru99 11-18-2012 02:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Triple9 (Post 4598918)

Only thing I can think is I hadn't tested the GFCI recently, it failed and a terminal wire loosened. I've brewed around 7 or 8 batches without issue with this setup.

Any other thoughts about what might have happened and best way to rectify it?

GFCI has nothing to do with it.

Loose and or inadequate wire connection. I wouldn't use the solid wire, but I would make sure there is the proper amount of wire in the terminal and that the terminals are tightened properly.

I'd also recommend to re-tighten the terminals after one batch, then check them again after another couple batches.

whoaru99 11-18-2012 02:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rcbishop (Post 4599388)
Also, the wire-around-the-screw connections really need to be done with solid wire. Stranded really needs terminals crimped on, or at least tinned.

I don't believe those are around the screw connections. Insert and tighten the screw, which clamps the wire.

Also, tinned wire under screws can/will be problematic as the solder will cold creep under the pressure and will lose the contact pressure. A light tinning of the tip of the wire to maintain shape is OK, but if the end is fully tinned / solder has wicked up the strands that's when you have the cold creep problem.


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