HELP: Oil filled heater makes spark when thermostate cuts on/off


I have several portable oil filled heaters in my house. They have a low and high setting which I believe equates to 900 and 1500 watts respectively. I usually run them all on high. At night, I notice a flash of light whenever the thermostat in the heaters cuts on and off. I think it's coming from a spark within the wall outlet.
Someone told me that the high current load was causing the spark, and I could resolve the problem by installing 20 amp wall outlets wherever I plug in the heaters. Is this true? If not, is there something else I can do to resolve the sparking issue?
FYI: The breakers for the circuits are all 15 amp, and all existing outlets are 15 amp.
Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you're getting a spare at or in the receptacle, you've got a problem. A loose connection in the outlet itself or loose wires connected to it. Have it changed and don't use it in the mean time

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Is it possible this is not caused by loose connections in the outlets? The reason I ask is because this happens with all the heaters, on 3 different outlets, and I replaced at least one of those plugs recently while remodeling a room.
Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I would look carefully to see if the spark is coming from the thermostat. When switches make and break contacts, there is a spark, usually you can't see it as its inside the body of the device, but if you are seeing it at the outlet, there is a problem at the outlet. Another heater in a different outlet that's on the same circuit as an outlet with loose wires, can also cause the loose outlet to spark

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You could get a spark with much lower current if something were loose.

I agree with RBM, but want to add that it's not the difference between 15 and 20 amps that makes the spark. It's because the the connection is looose or something loose inside, as RBM said. This could happen iwth a 20 amp socket too. (Although it would seem to solve the problem because it will be a new socket and not likely to be bad, and even if it weren't new, it will be a different one, and most sockets don't have this problem.)
In fact you shouldn't use a 20 amp socket because its presence will encourage someone someday to plug a 20 amp appliance into it, and if the breakers are 15 amps, then the wire is probably 14 gauge, and if the breaker doesn't trip for some reason, he'll be running 20 amps on 14 gauge wire, which isn't safe.
Story: I was living in a 1930 building in 1980, 49 apartments, and my bedroom was the maid's room, and the sockets were 50 years old, and because the landlord thought he was a plumber, he kept trying to repair the furnace himself, and kept failing. So I had a heater plugged in, and had used it for at least 10 or 20 days or nights. The outle was at the foot of my bed, the same height as the top of the mattress. This time I woke up to find flames coming from the outlet. About 1 inch high or a bit more. I was reaching for the cord to pull out the plug, but I actually had a girl with me, and just like in the movies, she kept pulling my arm back for some reason (panic?) each time I reached for the cord. It was like a slapstick comedy. I kept trying using the normal amount of force needed to move one's arm, but on the fourth try I upped the force to overcome her, got the cord, and pulled out the plug. And the flame disappeared within a second or two.
There was no damage and little soot, so it didn't seem it had been burning for long before I woke, but it was morning, and I don't know if I would have awakened that soon if it had been the middle of the night.
I think I got a new plug with open spring prongs and used that, and I checked if the receptacle or the plug was hot after that, and it wasn't. And it worked fine again. Although about that time, he finally hired someone to fix the furnace.
I don't really understnad the solid prongs that have no springiness. It seems to me they should have springiness too, in case the receptacle doesn't have it anymore.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.