Can improper wiring actually cause a fire?

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Google up a thread in alt.home.repair titled "Use two 12/2s for 240v?" -- the topic was discussed starting about 18 posts deep in the thread.

My mistake -- sloppy typing and proofreading; I reversed the amperage numbers in both halves. Thanks for the catch. Question should have read:
Why is it OK to install a 15A receptacle on a 20A circuit, but not a 20A receptacle on a 30A circuit?
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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circuit be

30A
http://www.passandseymour.com/knowhowfaq/showquestions.cfm?faqcategory=Electrical%20Basics
It generally pays to refer to NEC rather than something less authoritative, such as a vendor site.
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-Mike-
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Both he, and Pass & Seymour, are right. I stated it backwards.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

be.
dangerous,
electrocute. To

order
own
their
create
Hey Doug - I think that what he meant by "common sense" was the common sense to follow such things as electrical code, and not get all wrapped up in "would-be-nice-if" scenarios. Keep it simple, apply the code, and use common sense with code as your guide line.
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-Mike-
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Well, perhaps so -- but do you spend much time at alt.home.repair? Seems that a lot of people are unaware that there even *is* an electrical code. And some of the posts in this thread should be more than ample to show that even some folks who know that the Code exists, don't know nearly as much about what it says than they think they do.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

sense
Nope. I have to confess total ignorance of that group.

some
some
it
Unfortunately it seems that there are a lot of folks who know a code exists, and then throw out the phrase "Code" as if to support their position, with no real knowledge of what the code even says. I'm the first to admit that I don't have every page of the NEC memorized and I ask from time to time, in order to cover areas that I might not deal with on a regular basis, but I have certainly seen enough of the aforementioned references to code by those who clearly know nothing about what it says. Now *that* is dangerous.
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-Mike-
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Doug Miller wrote:

I see your point.. but everything in life is dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Driving a car, using a saw, cooking, and even walking across a parking lot has some danger. However, if someone gets a decent book explaining how to wire (or has someone teach them), wiring is not any more dangerous than many other activities.
You may know more of the finer details of wiring than I.. but again, common sense says that you use a 20A recepticle on a 20A circuit.. Sure you might be able to get away with mismatching sometimes, but someone like me can just match the numbers and be safe. That way I don't have to know the answers to all the questions you pose.
No offense, but it is a common thing to see people overexaggerate the dangers of adding their own circuit, outlet, light, or whatever and call an electrician for even trivial things. It's not rocket science or as complex as some make it out to be.
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No offense taken. You're right, it's not as complex as some make it out to be (and I hope I haven't seemed to be in that category!) -- but just the same, it isn't quite cut and dried, either. There *are* "gotchas" that can cause trouble. The biggest danger, IMO, is not the amateur electricians who don't know where the "gotchas" are -- it's the guys who don't even know that there *are* any "gotchas".
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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You'd be surprised. Just had an aquaintance, who's not an unintelligent fellow, say - what difference does it make if I put a 15A receptacle on a 20A circuit.
Renata

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On Fri, 22 Dec 2006 23:50:20 +0000, Renata wrote:

The main difference between a 15A and a 20A receptacle is that you can't plug a tool rated for 20 amps into a 15 amp receptacle (assuming that the tool has the proper 20 amp plug on it). A 15A recptacle isn't going to destroy the world or anything if it gets a 20 amp draw through it. Further, the use of 15A receptacles on 20A circuits is specifically allowed by code.

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--John
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Until you plug it in....
then it deserves respect it is owed. (120v does not hurt as much as the scrapes when you yank your hand out of the chassis)
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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Whohoo! I finally post to the wreck. My apologies in advance for the googlegroups thing, the usenet server that I use doesnt allow posting, and I'm too broke to afford a nice subscription to a decent server.
Anyways, My parents had a house built in 1997 (when I was 16 years old). There have been two "near fire" incidents since it was built, on 120v circuits.
The first involved a pathetic "power strip" unit on the end of a bar-style counter in the kitchen. The electrician installed this pathetic plastic rail that was 14" long, and only containted two outlets.One outlet would make intermittent contact, the other was fine. One day in 1998, the unit started smoking a bit, the tripped the breaker. I am quite a handyman, and amateur electronics technician, and have had moderate experience with practical wiring, so I opened the unit up to take a look at it. The bare ground wire had a nice crimped plastic-insulated connector on it (in a matching beige color) and was in fine shape. I don't know what the electrician did with the other two plastic crimp-connectors (that I assume came with the unit) but he had used wire nuts to connect the hot and neutral pigtails to their respective wires (The outlet had pigtails, rather than screws or backstabs). The wire nuts were a hair too large to fit into the plastic rail, so he had taken a knife and trimmed the sides of the wirenuts down. Over time, twisting plugs around inside the intermittent outlet had caused the exposed metal edges of the wirenuts to brush against each other, creating an arc between the hot and neutral lines. This make some good smoke and melted the plastic rail housing a little bit. (That same electrician installed lights in my father's woodshop with a constant hot, a switched ground used as a neutral, and an un-connected neutral, which we noticed and fixed before there was any noticable problem.)
I replaced that mess with a plain old computer-style power-strip, with the plug snipped off, and attached with good wirenuts and secured with a big wad of electrical tape. It has been much more useful and reliable, for the past 8 years.
The other incident was in the attic, which my parents decided to have finished in 1999, into an "apartment style" space (with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and livingroom). I did the entirety of the electrical wiring and electrical finish work, with the help of a BORG how-to electrical code book, and some internet state-specific electrical code research. It was inspected by a county electrical inspector, and passed.
A little over a year ago, (after I had gotten married and moved out) my parents and little brother were watching a movie in the attic family-room. My mother plugged a circulating-oil-heater into an outlet, and a different outlet, behind a couch, started smoking. After dissecting the situation, we found a good third of the blue plastic outlet box had melted, and half of the outlet itself had disintegrated. I had chained the outlets from that breaker together, and that outlet had been the weak link in the chain. It had one cable running in from the previous outlet, and another running on to the next outlet. I had bent a hook in the ends of the wires and stacked the two hooks onto each of the screws (I dont trust the backstab system). That was acceptable according to the inspector. The small contact area between the two neutral wires had not been a problem until that higher-current heater was plugged in, at which point it had exceeded the current-carrying capacity of a contact point with such small dimensions. It proceeded to overheat, melt, arc and destroy stuff. 20/20 hindsight has helped me realize that it's a very good idea to throw a wire-nut onto situations where there is more than one wire, and run a single-wire pigtail out to the screw contact.
The damage was done to the side of the outlet box AWAY from the 2x4 stud, thankfully, partially due to my father's instruction to install the outlets "upside down" so they didn't look like a smiley-face and tempt small children. Had it happened on the hot lead, or had the outlet been installed the other direction, we would most likely have had a fire (according to several expert and experienced opinions).
So yes, it's quite possible for even minor wiring problems to cause fires.
Spott
Toller wrote:

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On 14 Dec 2006 10:56:08 -0800, spott snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

ROFLMAO
Wirenut: Heap of crap half assed solution looking for a fire, bodge, commonly found in North American wiring installations.
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On Fri, 15 Dec 2006 16:33:08 +0000, Mike wrote:

Actaully, that "bodge" is required by the electrical code in US wiring, that or an equivalent. Do you know of any cases in which wire nuts caused fires? What do _you_ use?
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wrote:

So there is an equivalent to a wirenut is there? I'm having great difficulty thinking of anything else that could "perform" a similar "function" and be so badly engineered for the task in hand.

Google images "wire nut" and "wirenut" brings up quite a good selection.

Fortunately I reside in the true land of the free where higher standards are used in electrical installations. Basically just about everywhere other than the USA.
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On Sun, 17 Dec 2006 00:19:23 +0000, Mike wrote:

So what do you use?

Please post a link to one of those images in which there was a fire caused by wirenuts. The only images I find that are at all relevant show burnt wirenuts due to improper use with aluminum wire in violation of code, and in none of them was there any indication of a structure fire. Now admittedly I did not take the time to examine more than the first ten pages or so of images.

The question was not where you reside, the question was what you use in lieu of wire nuts. So what do you use? Or don't you know?
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wrote:

And your problem with wire nuts is precisely what?
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wrote:

Everything, I wouldn't even trust them on low voltage door bell wiring let alone anything carrying mains voltage and current.
They are pure unadulterated crap.
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Mike wrote:

The National Electrical Code 110.14 state:
"Splices shall be made with an approved splice cap or wire nut."
What do you use in place of wire nuts?
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Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Fortunately I'm not bound by "The National Electrical Code"
So I use either proper screw terminals usually fitted with a rising leaf spring or preferably gas tight crimps, crimped with an approved, calibrated crimp tool and then protected with adhesive lined, low smoke and fume, zero halogen heat shrink This latter method in particular quickly gives a guaranteed low impedance connection that will last decades. i.e. the professional way to do it, not the bodgit and scarper method espoused by "The National Electrical Code"
Wasn't it Michael Faraday that called the USA "The land of the free and home of the smoldering wirenut?"
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