Replacing electrical wall outlets...

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My house is 20 yrs. old, and I'm tired of leaving parts of these 3 pronged cable plugs in my outlets, because I can't remove them without so much force. Living in the SE I have to unplug my computers, and video stuff *frequently*, and just today destroyed another $50 surge protector pulling it out of the wall.
Can anyone tell me what it would cost *roughly* to replace each box or whatever is required? Or even if that is going to help, and make these small appliances and data cables any easier to unplug? [That is, hiring a professional electrician to do it.] TIA as always...
Barbara
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snug fitting electrical receptacles are actually a good thing and you will find commercial grade receptacles of higher quality are generally "snugger" fitting. They will break in over time though. If the outlets look new and the only problem is the retention force, i'd keep them as is.
If you are powering off your equipment due to thunderstorm activity, consider hiring an electrician to install a lightning arrestor at your electrical panel. this will shunt a lightning strike to earth ground, protecting your household wiring. This combined with power strips of sufficient joule rating should help protect your sensitive electronic equipmetn from all but the worst direct lightning strikes.
hope this helps.
chicagofan wrote:

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chicagofan wrote:

You might try putting a little smear of "dielectric grease" on the prongs of those plugs so that it lubricates the inside of the female recepticals.
You can get that kind of grease at auto supply stores.
HTH,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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I'd recommend getting it from an electrical supply, or you may wind up with wheel bearing grease

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this)@optonline.net> wrote:

Or simpler still, in the electrical department at Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace Hardware, etc. -- you're looking for "OxGard".
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Thanks to all of you who suggested this. I've made a note of this. Home Depot is nearby. bj
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Jeff Wisnia wrote:
<"Stuck" plugs>

Isn't "dielectric grease" an *insulator? Wouldn't it be contraindicated for use with outlets?
    Some kind of conductive grease/lubricant would seem to be a better choice. Or am I posting too late at night?
PB
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In a home only 20 years old, you should not be having a problem. Of course you should expect that they used the cheapest outlets they could find. Replacing them with quality heavy duty outlets would be a good idea. The cost would be something like $2.50 plus labor for each outlet. The time should not be long for each outlet, but the cost per hour varies greatly from one area to another. You will need to ask for some estimates from local electricians. Count the number of outlets you need replaced (doing all of them might not be a bad idea) and then get on the phone.
Now about unplugging all these devices. With a proper modern wiring, it should not be necessary to unplug all those devices every time. I might suggest buying a few quality surge protectors and check out their warranty. Many include insurance for any equipment plugged into them so if the worse happens and the equipment is fried, you get a replacement.
Always remember to keep all your personal files backed up.
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Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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Joseph Meehan wrote:

I was thinking about doing them all, based on the replies I got. :)

When my computers were fried, I looked into those warranties and they required me to ship them my computer to be fixed, which I couldn't do without. Since that time, I started unplugging it all when I was here.

I finally learned that lesson and bought an external hard drive for backup. :) Thanks so much for the estimate.
To Malto and HeyBub... I have considered the whole house surge protection, but when I looked into it with my power company... their service seemed to have so many exclusions, I wondered what it did cover.
If I knew a *reputable* electrician, I would do this. Is there an electrical society or something whose referrals mean something?
I'll keep asking around, and see if I can find someone who has had this done. Thanks so much for all the responses and advice everyone. bj
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chicagofan wrote:

In the last sixty years, I've unplugged many an AC cord, but I've yet to 'leave parts of the plug' in the outlet! I hope you mean by 'pulling it out of the wall', you aren't pulling on the AC cord itself? Rather than grasping the plug near the outlet and gently but firmly unplugging it?
Just wondering.
lee
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I was wondering about that also, I have never heard of anything breaking off in the outlet!
30 years ago lighting struck the building across the street from my office and destroyed one of the 9 computer monitors in my office. That is the only damage I have ever seen from lighting, despite never unplugging anything. I am wondering just why she is unplugging everything. (I expect it did a bit more damage in the building it hit; it is also the only lighting strike I have ever seen hit.)
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And wiggle it if it is hard to get out, pull on one side, then the other. Most plugs from computer stuff are really big and easy to get a hold of. I have lamp plugs that are 50 years old and only a half-inch deep and they might be hard to grip.

I'm wondering too. And what is a three-pronged data cable? What kind of data cable is plugged into the wall in the average house?

I don't unplug anything either. I may have lost an internal modem via a surge on the phone line, or maybe it broke for some other reason.
But I did have a girlfriend who lived on a wooded lot with a lot of trees just outside her property, in Baltimore. She said that she lost two fancier than average telephones, a fancy microwave, and the refrigerator in one lighting storm. I replaced the electronic module for the microwave but it was expensive, 30 to 50% of the cost of a new microwave. 60 to 100% of the cost of the microwave used, but I've never understood that comparison since she had no way to buy it used, unless she wanted to spend weeks going to yard sales and looking at ads etc.
Despite all that she lost, no one moves the fridge to unplug it in every storm, and the odds are so low that I don't blame them.
Oh, I may have also lost the control panel for my home burglar alarm because of lightning, but maybe it was some other cause. One morning when I was leaving for work, there was a little smoke coming out of it.
Lightning doesn't usually hit the house, or its damage is really visible. It hits a tree outside and induces currents in a wire going into the house.
Lighning rods don't conduct the lightning to ground. They are so thin they'd melt. IIRC they conduct to ground the negagive charge that would build up at the top of the house, and the lightning isn't attracted to the house anymore. Something like that.

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wrote:
[snip]

I remember several cases of losing computer equipment during a thunderstorm. All of them were modems (connected to phoneline). That's ONE reason why I prefer external modems.
[snip]
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76 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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Mark Lloyd wrote:

The NIST has a guide on surges and surge protection at: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/practiceguides/surgesfnl.pdf According to NIST guide, US insurance information indicates equipment most frequently damaged by lightning is computers with a modem connection TVs, VCRs and similar equipment (presumably with cable TV connections). All can be damaged by high voltages between power and signal wires.
One of the ways to protect against high voltage between signal an power is to have a *short* 'ground' wire from the phone, cable, ... entry protectors to the earthing wire at the power service. With any large surge current to earth, the building 'ground' will lift far above 'absolute' ground. You want the 'ground' for phone, cable, power to lift together.
When using a plug-in suppressor, all interconnected equipment needs to be connected to the same plug-in suppressor, or interconnecting wires need to go through the suppressor. External connections, like phone, also need to go through the suppressor. Connecting all wiring through the suppressor prevents damaging voltages between power and signal wires.
------------------- If the plug on a plug-in suppressor is damaged it can be replaced. The suppressor doesn't have to be junked.
--
bud--


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bud-- wrote:

I've lost 2 motherboards, 2 surge protectors and 2 VCRS, not at the same time.

Thanks for this...

I didn't know this, but I'd probably have to pay more to have it repaired than it's worth. Thanks for your reply. bj
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We had two severe thunderstorms about 2 weeks apart. We lost a total of 3 motherboards. In the second incident, a new motherboard was taken out. That's convinced me to: 1) just buy a new computer than screw about with MB replacement; and 2) get UPS for each computer. The main risk to our machines is now just the network cable. If we go wireless, we should be safe from just about anything.
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wrote:

How many of those systems had internal modems (some internal device connected to a phoneline)?

And don't use internal modems.

Yes, although wireless does have other significant disadvantages (slower, less reliable, less secure... etc...).

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Now review that NIST discussion. What does a protector do? Page 8 of 24: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/practiceguides/surgesfnl.pdf

Where does that UPS 'divert' a surge to. Effective protectors are located where wires enter the building. Your computer already has significant internal protection. Anything a plug-in protector might do is already inside that computer. Internal protection was overwhelmed because you let a surge enter the building. Now that UPS will somehow stop or absorb what three miles of sky could not? Of course not. That also is not what the NIST says effective protectors do.
Your phone line must already have a 'whole house' protector installed free by the telco. Your cable needs no protector because it can be earthed without any protector. Inspect both. Do they make the also required 'less than 10 foot' connection to a common earthing electrode?
Your cable company will even recommend removing plug-in protectors or a UPS on their cable. Cable for protection is earthed where it enters the building. That protector will only degrade cable signals - provide no effective protection. In each case, what defines protection? The NIST document says an effective protector *diverts* to earth ground.
Well that UPS has maybe a paltry 300 joules. That is near zero. But near zero protection is enough to claim "IT CONTAINS PROTECTION FROM DIRECT LIGHTNING STRIKES". Myths like this are widespread and encouraged routinely by Bud.
Meanwhile, what is the most common source of surge damage? Incoming on AC mains. Wires that are most exposed at the street. Just like lightning striking antennas atop the Empire State Building, your AC wires carry a direct lightning strike into the motherboard. This because the surge was not earth where it entered the building - at the circuit breaker box.
That box already should contain a 'less than 10 foot' earthing connection. If not, then a new earthing electrode must be installed to meet post 1990 National Electrical Code requirements. No earth ground means ... well what does the NIST say? It *diverts* a surge to earth ground. And you have no (insufficient) earthing? What defines an effective protector? Its earthing. Where is the surge energy dissipated? In earth. Will a protector or UPS absorb that energy that 3 miles of sky could not stop? Of course not. Only place that surge energy gets harmlessly dissipated is in earth.
Install only one 'whole house' protector on AC mains with that short connection to earth. Massively less money and protection that actually can earth surges. Things even more important than a computer (furnace controls, bathroom and kitchen GFCIs, smoke detectors) are also protected. Protected by a device that far exceeds what the UPS even claims to accomplish. Did you notice the UPS does not even make surge protector claims in numeric specifications? If it provides numbers, you might see 'near zero' protection.
A protector that has no earthing is massively profitable AND does not even claim to protect from the type of surge that typically damages computer motherboards. Don't take my word for it. Where is each type of surge defined AND numbers for that protection? A UPS makes no such claims. Somehow a relay that takes tens of milliseconds to open will stop a surge that does damage in microseconds? That is how UPS protection works?
Install one 'whole house' protector. Verify earthing for telephone and cable TV protection exists and is properly installed. If necessary, get building earthing upgraded to meet and exceed post 1990 code requirements. What does the NIST says protector does? It *diverts* a surge to earth ground. How does it do that if you earthing is missing or insufficient?
Why do cable companies recommend removing a protector from their cable? Protector has no earthing - does ineffective protection - and degrades TV signal. Every protector as noted in that NIST citation is only as good as its earth ground. No earth ground means no place for surge energy to be diverted - no effective protection.
One 'whole house' protector does far more than any protector adjacent to electronics - at tens of times less money. Get your earthing inspected or upgraded. Get one 'whole house' protector for everything. Verify your cable and telephone protector are properly installed. Or waste money on devices that will not even claim to provide that protection - in numeric specs?
Any wire that is not earthed (by direct connection or protector) where it enters the building means no effective protection. There is no 'magic box' protector. Protection even in the early 20th Century has always been defined by earthing. The effective protector makes a 'less than 10 foot' connection to earth ground ... to *divert* the surge.
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w_tom wrote:

What does the NIST guide really say about plug-in suppressors? They are "the easiest solution".
A second excellent guide on surges and surge protection from the IEEE is at: http://omegaps.com/Lightning%20Guide_FINALpublishedversion_May051.pdf The IEEE guide also says plug-in suppressors are effective.

Needs no protector? The IEEE guide notes that the voltage between cable center conductor and sheath is limited by the breakdown of F-connectors which is typically 2-4,000V. The guide notes that connected equipment can be damaged at those voltages. Plug-in suppressors will likely clamp the voltage to a reasonable level.

The concern is not distance to common electrode but distance from phone, cable entry protector to the earthing wire at the power service. Francois Martzloff, who was the NIST guru on surges and wrote the NIST guide, has written "the impedance of the grounding system to `true earth' is far less important than the integrity of the bonding of the various parts of the grounding system."
The IEEE guide says: "If the cable, satellite, or phone cables do not enter the building near the service entrance, the only effective way of protecting the equipment is to use a multiport protector."

w_ has a religious belief (immune from challenge) that surge protection must use earthing. Thus in his view plug-in suppressors (which are not well earthed) can not possibly work. The IEEE guide explains plug-in suppressors work by CLAMPING the voltage on all wires (signal and power) to the common ground at the suppressor. Plug-in suppressors do not work primarily by earthing (or stopping or absorbing). The guide explains earthing occurs elsewhere. (Read the guide starting pdf page 40).

Service panel suppressors are a good idea. What does the NIST guide say? "Q - Will a surge protector installed at the service entrance be sufficient for the whole house? A - There are two answers to than question: Yes for one-link appliances, No for two-link appliances [equipment connected to power AND phone or cable or....]. Since most homes today have some kind of two-link appliances, the prudent answer to the question would be NO - but that does not mean that a surge protector installed at the service entrance is useless."

Complete nonsense. Plug-in suppressors have MOVs from H-G, N-G, H-N. That is all possible combinations and all possible surge modes.

The required statement of religious belief in earthing. Everyone is in favor of earthing. The only question is whether plug-in suppressors work. Both the IEEE and NIST guides say plug-in suppressors are effective. Read the sources.
There are 98,615,938 other web sites, including 13,843,032 by lunatics, and w_ can't find another lunatic that says plug-in suppressors are NOT effective. All you have is w_'s opinions based on his religious belief in earthing.
w_ has never answered: - Why do the only 2 examples of protection in the IEEE guide use plug-in suppressors? - Why does the NIST guide says plug-in suppressors are "the easiest solution"?
bud--
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Bud's citations show how a plug-in protector works and why it will even contribute to damage of the motherboard. In facilities that require protection (ie your telephone Central Office with a computer connected to overhead wires all over town), Bud's solution is not used. They need protection; not enriching a manufacturer. Where failure is not acceptable, plug-in protectors are not used. Bud's plug-in protectors do not even claim, with numbers, to provide protection. The NIST defines how it might work and then warns why plug-in protectors are not effective:

Bud recommends protectors that don't have effective earthing. That was even explained in that Electrical Engineering Times article entitled "Protecting Electrical Devices from Lightning Transients". Wire has impedance. The 'whole house' protector with a 'less than 10 foot' connection to earth can divert a surge to earth. Where is lightning energy dissipated? In a protector? Yes, if fire is an acceptable option. Energy must be dissipated in earth which is why effective protectors have that short and dedicated earthing connection.
Bud will avoid ALL discussion about earthing. His protectors have no effective earthing. A $3 power strip with some $0.10 parts sells for $25 or $150. With such massive profits, then truth becomes a victim.
Undersizing makes it even more profitable. Another problem with protectors that are missing that earthing connection - these 'scary pictures': http://www.hanford.gov/rl/?pageU6&parentU4 http://www.westwhitelandfire.com/Articles/Surge%20Protectors.pdf http://www.ddxg.net/old/surge_protectors.htm http://www.zerosurge.com/HTML/movs.html http://tinyurl.com/3x73ol or http://www.esdjournal.com/techpapr/Pharr/INVESTIGATING%20SURGE%20SUPPRESSOR%20FIRES.doc
Same reason explains a Boston fire on 28 Sept : http://www3.cw56.com/news/articles/local/BO63312 / "Fire rips through apartment home to college students"

Ask Bud for specifications that list each type of surge AND numbers for protection from each surge? Numbers do not exist. When challenged to provide those numbers, Bud resorted to mockery and insults. But then profits are at risk.
Bud's two citations both define why plug-in protectors cannot accomplish what one 'whole house' protector does. So where does the surge energy get dissipated? In those scary pictures? Effective protectors dissipate lightning energy harmlessly in earth - without those scary pictures. Effective protectors make surges irrelevant so that a protector remains functional and the human never even knew a surge existed. Just another reason why responsible homeowners instead earth one 'whole house' protector. Spend less money for superior protection.
Bud's second citation shows a plug-in protector too far from earth ground and too close to appliances. Therefore it earths 8000 volts destructively through an adjacent TV - Page 42 Figure 8. What kind of protector is that? Ungrounded. That is what Bud promotes. Why does the article from Electrical Engineering Times entitled "Protecting Electrical Devices from Lightning Transients" not discuss plug-in protectors? It is about surge protection - not scams. Protection is completely about earthing.
Plug-in protectors don't have that earthing connection. Plug-in protectors may be so grossly undersized (to increase profits) as to even create those 'scary pictures'. Responsible engineering always require earthing for protection. Your own telco does not use what Bud recommends for the same reasons. Profits are at risk if you learn why one 'whole house' protector does so much and costs less money. The effective solution is a protector with a 'less than 10 foot' connection to earth ground. That's one 'whole house' protector without risk in those 'scary pictures'.
Distance to the earthing electrode is critical - which is why Electrical Engineering Times provides a formula for wire impedance. You need not perform that calculation. One 'whole house' protector with a 'less than 10 foot' earthing connection means ignoring the $3000 of plug-in protectors that Bud recommends.

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