Life Alert - Outlet bursts into flames

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Has anyone seen that tv commerrcial for "Life Alert", where an outlet on the wall bursts into flames? Why would an outlet suddenly burst into flames like that? There was no smoke first or anything, it just burst into flames. The flames come out from behind the cover plate too, not from the outlet itself, and there's only one thing plugged into it, not an overload. That's scarey to think that an outlet can just suddenly burst into flames.
Jim
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Jimw wrote:

Do you have aluminum wiring ?? This happened to me in house with AL wiring. Fire shot out the spaces between the outlet itself and the cover plate. Nothing was even plugged in. It happened when I started the microwave which is on an outlet "downstream" of the fire outlet. I learned later this can happen when the wires work loose over time. The fire outlet was above kitchen counter above the dish washer.
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Yes, we had a receptacle that was always used for the vacuum cleaner. Over the years of frequent use it failed. It sparked with seeming blue flames.
I had a stereo floor speaker ignite once. I noticed the front cover burning, so I threw the speaker out into the front yard.
I never figured out why it burst into flames - to loud???
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Jimw wrote:

Hi, How can you tell it is not an overload.

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It's a TV commercial! The jolly green giant isn't real nor the talking animals.
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greg2468 wrote:

Now you have really ruined my day. :-)
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What is really scary is that in the printed information for smoke alarms, it is stated that you buy these with the written information that failure rate can be as high as 35%.
Steve
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On Wed, 25 Feb 2009 01:26:03 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote:

And another good reason to have multiple smoke alarms (besides ensuring that they're placed in optimal locations to sound *early* for fires starting in various places). My house has 7 (1 inside and 1 outside each of 3 bedrooms, one of those doing double duty as the top of the stairs, and 1 in the garage, all tied together. I had to add a junction box in the garage anyway when doing some remodeling, and decided I liked the idea of an earlier warning that the garage is on fire, since it'd take a while for smoke to make it through the firewalls and door, and by then it might be too late for the kids room above the garage. No false alarms with that one yet). Can seem like overkill, but the code makes sense for closed bedroom doors (where the fire could start on either side), and they're cheap when doing new construction.
And testing every once in a while will help ensure that most of that 35% failure chance occurs while you're poking the "test" button, when the consequence (having to go buy a new one) is much more palatable than a middle-of-the-night failure.
Josh
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Josh wrote:

Hi, I have combination of dual sensor types; ionization/photo sensor, ionization/CO sensor scattered all over the house. I just replaced them all since they are ~10 years old. All are hard wired with battery back up.
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... >outside each of 3 bedrooms, one of those doing double duty as the top

"all tied together".
That sounds really cool.
Now, how do you do it?
Especially with those alarms you buy 3 to a package at eg Costco?
Possible?
THANKS!!!
David
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The commercial is a little over the top, but lightning can do some funny things. Lightning struck close to my house. It blew out the outlet that was nest to a bed and started the bed covers on fire. I caught it in time, so little damage was done. I also had an extention cord plugged into an out in the garage. Nothing was plugged into the extention cord. For some reason it blew the extension cord in half. It also fried the fan motor on my refrigerator.
Strange stuff for sure.
Hank
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Agreed, I had a Dishwasher catch fire during an electrical storm, and it was running at the time. Luckily my oldest son, always the quick thinker put it out with water from the sink. We called Sears and they showed up with a new one post haste, and took the burnt one to send for inspection (more likely to get the evidence out of our hands). Baffled me how an appliance that was spraying water around could ignite, but like you say lightning behaves strangely.
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Nothing strange in your damage. The nearby lightning was a direct strike to wires inside the house. Lightning found connections to earth inside. For example, electricity was flowing from a cloud to wires inside the house. Through power cord insulation. Then to earth maybe via that concrete garage floor. Yes, concrete is a good electrical conductor which is why arcing through power cord insulation may have vaporized.
Same applies to other damage. First current was flowing everywhere in a path from that cloud through something in that bedroom. Later, a bedspread caught fire. What was that path to earth that arced; created a fire? Of course, the solution was to earth that surge before it could enter the building. An earthed connection from each wire inside each cable did not exist which is why some items were damaged.
Other reasons for outlet sparks or fire were discussed including aluminum wiring problems created by 'cold creep' or defective wiring in this picture:
http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/OutletBackWiredAL125DJFs.jpg
or improper wiring connectors:
http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/PurpleBurn03AC.jpg
Others noted arc fault breakers as another solution for another type of arcing. Or large currents passing through a receptacle with nothing plugged into that receptacle. Each would appear strange only if basic electrical principles had not yet been learned. Sparks or flame from a receptacles should be rare to nearly impossible - but still possible.
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On Feb 25, 4:30am, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

Cool story. Have you had occasion to knock your neighbor to the ground again since then? If so, do tell.
Mike
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On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 14:14:48 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:
Very good story.

I don't know that longer screws etc. would have changed things. Around here, a tree fell during a storm, landed on phone lines and snapped the telephone pole 15 or 20 feet away. Surely the pole was stronger than any possible attachment of the conduit.

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On Feb 25, 3:30am, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

Great story. This thread reminds me of a time a saw a small commercial building on fire. It seemed to cause an electrical short (or maybe the short caused the fire) but the overhead wires serving the building began to get hot, the insulation on them was melting and smoking all up the street.
I'm kinda surprised that there isn't some sort of overload protection on these wires - i.e. neighborhood service wires - wouldn't there be some way to break these circuits when a powerline is shorted out or downed by trees, etc.? -- H
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<snip rest of story>
My college roommate, Joe, was really quiet one evening after he got back from work. He had delivered a refrigerator that afternoon. When he and his helper got there, the customer, who was sitting on the floor working on his clothes dryer, told them where to put the icebox.
They installed the refrigerator, then turned to the customer to ask if he was happy with the location, but got no answer. The guy had hold of the 220-volt supply cord, which was already plugged into the wall, and was being electrocuted.
Joe didn't know where the breaker box was, so he made a double fist and hit the guy in the side of the head as hard as he could. That made him drop the cable, but it was too late.
I guess Joe had a right to be quiet.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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Yow, that's totally tragic. Did he get paid for the refrigerator? I mean, not like I'm a callous jerk, but enquiring minds want to know.
--
Christopher A. Young
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Joe was an employee. He got his paycheck. Whether the store got paid by the customer's estate I don't know.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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