It's really hot here tonight and my kids air conditioners upstairs
have me worried. The outlets that they plug into are actually getting
hot and the plug is hot to the touch when I pull it out and feel it.
I switched my son's plug to a newer plug in the bathroom that I had an
electrician put in. I know for a fact that that bathroom plug is
grounded and I trust that electrician. That one does not seem to be
heating up now. I had to run a long extension cord to reach it but
there is no heat anywhere now on that plug at either end.
In my kids room they have grounded outlets but I've always had
problems with the circuit breaker cutting off with the air
conditioners both running at the same time upstairs. It am wondering
if our upstairs rooms may have been a do it yourself job. It's a
dormered out attic and the work is not so great. Not bad, but not
I'm no electrician, but it seems like those units are drawing more
current than the current wiring is capable of handling and it also
seems like they are sharing the same circuit.
Obviously it's time to call an electrician but I would appreciate any
feedback on the hot outlets and on how big a job it would be to redo
some of the wiring to that upstairs dormer.
Thanks in advance,
I am no expert but, I believe that air cons are supposed to be on a
circuit by themselves. Is there anything else on the same circuit ,like
a tv,radio,lights etc. Try turning them all off except the air con and
see if that makes a difference. Also, possibly the circuit is wired with
to light a wire maybe #14 instead of #12. Maybe the the receptacle is
under amped or it could be a loose wire in the receptacle box. Anyway
you need to get it checked out by a qualified person, what you have is a
dangerous situation. Good Luck!!
Replace the outlet with one that has screw terminals. You should use a
"specification grade" outlet rather than the 49 cent special. Chances
are that the bedroom was wired with the cheapest outlet available with
the quickest installation procedure known as backstabbing. The stripped
wire was just pushed into a slot on the back of the outlet with a small
contact spring holding it in. Screw terminals provide much more contact
area and less resistance -- the source of the heat.
Bob is right on as to the first thing to do.
There should be a tag on the A/C somewhere that give the wattage or
amps. What does it say? Do you know what size breaker or fuse is
protecting that circuit? Are Aluminum wires uses in your home? Is anything
else plugged into that outlet? Is that a pass through circuit at that
outlet? If so are there any devices down stream ?
--Well a duplex would be ok if you need to plug your microwave oven or
-- toaster in :)-
A microwave would be OK but if you used a toaster you'd need another
AC to compensate for the extra heat in the room. Now you'd need one of
If it's a duplex you can be pretty sure both outlets are on the same
circuit, and you know you can't have too much on the same circuit as
an air conditioner.
BTW, I know someone who has central heat (no central A/C) and a window
A/C on the same circuit. It works OK as long as both aren't used at
the same time.
On Tue, 26 Jun 2007 20:52:42 -0700, " email@example.com"
This may or not be fairly simple. Appliances that draw lots of
amperage can make cords and plugs warm to the touch (my 11 amp vacuum
cleaner does this). Extension cords are intended for temporary use
only, and should not be used for larger appliances. You did not
mention the amperage of the A/C and this is important. Installing a
separate dedicated circuit for your A/Cs and an electrical outlet near
the unit is probably what is needed. Ask the electrician to do a
safety check of your existing wiring and to make cost-effective
suggestions. Also, your main needs to be examined to see if it can
take the extra A/C load, plus room for new breaker(s).
I know someone who thought she could use an electric heater on a #16
extension cord (the heater used 1500W and the label on the cord said
1875W). The ends of that cord got hot enough to soften the plastic.
First off - Unplug the units and stop using them. As I'm sure you
know, receptacles and cords should not be getting hot. So far you've
been lucky that the breaker is tripping before a fire starts.
UL safety experts advise positioning a window air conditioner so its
cord will reach a wall outlet. However, if you must use an extension
cord, follow this advice from UL: Ensure you have the right cord for
an air conditioner. "They're a special breed in the hardware store,"
Drengenberg says. These extension cords are three-pronged grounded
cords and are often flat.
Whether or not it's a "do it yourself job" is not really the issue. A
"do it yourself job" is not, by definition, a badly done job.
Many circuit breakers will trip for 2 reasons: an over-current
situation where you exceed the rating of the breaker or an extended
"near-capacity" situation where the current very close to the rated
current for a long time. The breaker may have a thermal protection
mechanism so it will trip before the wires get hot enough to start a
fire. It sounds like you are very close to the capacity of the
Easy test: shut off the breaker and see which outlets go dead.
You should map out your entire circuit breaker box anyway, just so you
know what is controlling what.
Can't tell from here. It might be as simple as adding a breaker to the
box, pulling one length of Romex up to the attic and splitting a
single circuit into 2. On the other hand, you might have other issues
that could make the project a lot more complicated, such as the wrong
size wiring, faulty outlets, etc.
If you are not comfortable tackling this job yourself, by all means
call an electrician, but the first thing I would do is unplug any
device that causes my outlets to get hot. If you think it's hot
without the AC on, consider how hot that attic will get when it's on
If the circuit breaker is tripping with 2 air conditioners running, the
2 air conditioners are a higher amp load than the circuit capacity. You
need to find another circuit for one of the units - something that is
not dead when the circuit breaker trips. If you use an extension cord
use one that is adequate size for the load and not a lot longer than
needed. Or add an outlet on a different circuit. What is the amp rating
for each unit and what is the circuit breaker size?
Redo - hard to guess. If you are adding an outlet on a new circuit how
easy is it to get a wire to the panel? With a dormer it is likely you
can't fish wire through the attic which, in general, makes the job more
difficult. New outlet on a different circuit - how far to an outlet on a
different circuit now. Outside walls insulated? (harder to fish in new
Hot outlet - I agree with others that it could be
- loose wire connection
- use of 'backstab' connections
- cheap outlet that now has a loose connection to the plug (does the
plug pull out real easy?)
- or maybe just the other outlet wires through this outlet.
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