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Old 11-17-2012, 06:57 PM   #1
Triple9
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Default 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?



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Old 11-17-2012, 07:25 PM   #2
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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.



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Old 11-17-2012, 07:55 PM   #3
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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.

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Old 11-17-2012, 08:46 PM   #4
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We are going to need to see some pictures of this, for education purposes of course.

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Old 11-17-2012, 10:35 PM   #5
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No worries. Probably be a day or two before I pull it apart and take some shots.

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Old 11-17-2012, 10:45 PM   #6
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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.

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Old 11-18-2012, 01:51 AM   #7
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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.





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Old 11-18-2012, 02:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple9 View Post
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
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple9 View Post

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.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcbishop View Post
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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