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Windows 7: Any Electrical Danger?

22 Jun 2010   #1

Vista
 
 
Any Electrical Danger?

*Sigh* sorry but this is another one of my electrical issue topics...but I think it could be serious, moreso than my other one.

I recently (like two weeks ago) removed an old duplex receptacle outlet from one of my walls. I shut it off of course while removing it and I'm pretty sure at an earlier point I was fiddling with it while the power was on and thank God nothing happened to me then...by the way, I removed it because I was curious as to how they are hooked up and how I could replace them.

So anyway it has been removed now for about two weeks, and for that span of time (two weeks) the black and white wires, as well as the ground wire have not been connected to anything...meaning they're just floating there right now, unconnected to any outlet.

I'm not really sure if this is safe...especially when power is running to that outlet. You may be wondering why I just don't turn off the power to that outlet via my switchbox/powerbox. Well the reason is, when I do that, for some reason my internet goes down since I think it turns off the main source box that gives me my FIOS internet, and, although I can live without that for a while until an electrician comes and installs my new outlet, I have two brothers who are not willing to go even one day without internet.

Obviously it is not safe in the sense that someone could put their hand in there and get shocked, however I have sealed that area off with a paper towel with "KEEP AWAY" written on it, and I'm not quite sure whether or not the cable ends are touching that paper towel from behind...but I don't even want to make sure since it'll involve touching that area and I don't know what may happen to me...but so far it didn't make a spark or fire or anything so I suppose it's not causing any reaction with the paper towel...

So, I was wondering if this at all may affect any of the other electrical wiring in my house. Meaning, could it have an effect on neighboring outlets or any of the other outlets in my house (the fact I have one old outlet removed and the wires for it are just floating where they are, unattached to anything)? Because I noticed two outlets in my house that are not really working...one seemed to go from working to not-working sometimes, but 90% of the time it doesn't work, and the other one just plain doesn't work at all...the one that doesn't work at all is an outlet close to the area where the old outlet has been removed, and the outlet that doesn't work 90% of the time is in a whole different floor on my house.

My #1 concern now is if, the fact I have one removed outlet with the wires for it floating around unnattached is going to affect other outlets in the house (I'm really only concerned about the outlets in my room), and as I said it seems to have affected two outlets (I know I have everything turned on in my switchbox/powerbox so I know this isn't an issue) but has not really affected any of my room outlets...but I am afraid of plugging any more things in my room, since I have no idea what this may cause considering there's one outlet area in my house with floating unnattached wires...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jun 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Hello WE,

This is an EXTREME fire risk and shock hazzard. If the black and white wires touch, you will have a spark that can easily catch a paper towel or anything flammable near it on fire. It can also trip or blow the breaker or fuse.

I would strongly recommend killing the power to it, reconnect the wires properly back to the plug outlet, then putting a plug cover plate back on it.

I would also recommend to wrap the sides of the plug outlet with electrical tape (one layer is fine) to cover the terminal screws and prevent any possible shorts in the future if spider webs or dust build in the outlet's box.

Hope this helps,
Shawn

Name:  electrical_9.gif
Views: 26
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My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jun 2010   #3

Windows 7 Enterprise
 
 

Agreed.
Here in NZ, apparently it is illegal to even remove the cover without being a certified electrician for exactly the reasons Shawn stated.

Shy of following Shawns good instructions, I'd alternatively recommend getting a Sparky in to look at it, just to make sure its done right. Never halfarse when it comes to safety.

I'm not sure what voltages you guys use over there, but here its 240v. And it sure is enough to make a decent bang.

On a minor note, a Sparky would also cut any extension cables they find with insulation/electrical tape wrapped around it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


23 Jun 2010   #4

Vista
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Hello WE,

This is an EXTREME fire risk and shock hazzard. If the black and white wires touch, you will have a spark that can easily catch a paper towel or anything flammable near it on fire. It can also trip or blow the breaker or fuse.

I would strongly recommend killing the power to it, reconnect the wires properly back to the plug outlet, then putting a plug cover plate back on it.

I would also recommend to wrap the sides of the plug outlet with electrical tape (one layer is fine) to cover the terminal screws and prevent any possible shorts in the future if spider webs or dust build in the outlet's box.

Hope this helps,
Shawn

Attachment 80322
By the way dude, thanks for reading and responding. I thought someone was going to complain of pain after reading that big redundant post.

It's been like this for like...3 weeks now. I definitely know it's a hazard, and I will have an electrician in by Friday morning.

By the way, what is the difference between trip, and blow? Breaker and fuse? Not saying this will happen or it happened, but if one black wire has touched a white wire will there be a way for me to determine if this happened?

Of course I could tell if it happens right before me, but is there a way I can tell if it happened, say two weeks ago?

And also, the wires are still in their position now, not touching each other. However they are touching the inside of the walls, for the most part, and the power has been on for those wires for those whole 3 weeks. What could this result into? Keep in mind the black and white wires have not touched, but the copper inside of them are kind of touching the inside of the walls nonetheless. I was wondering what just that would do.

I would turn off the power but this turns off my internet, and my bigger brothers always complain because they need internet like 24/7....bah I hate my life...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jun 2010   #5

win 7 ultimate32bit, Win8.1pro wmc 32bit
 
 

if you must leave it like that,then i suggest you cut the power wrap insulating tape around the bare end [seperately] and reconnect the power
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jun 2010   #6

Windows 7 Enterprise
 
 

Quote:
By the way, what is the difference between trip, and blow? Breaker and fuse? Not saying this will happen or it happened, but if one black wire has touched a white wire will there be a way for me to determine if this happened?
You trip a breaker, and blow a fuse.

A breaker is bascially the same as a fuse, except it is in the form of a type of switch.
You will hear it click when you short circuit the wires and it trips.
It is more expensive and safer than a fuse, as you can just flick the switch and you'll have power back.
Note, if you flick the switch back on and it flicks off straight away, you still have a short circuit in your wires somewhere.

A fuse, is No.8 wire generally wrapped around two metal poles encased in a ceramic block. You should hear it go bang when you short circuit your wires. If I remember correctly, No.8 wire is 10Amps... so should only be wrapped around the poles once. Twice would make the fuse 20A. Dont do this. It will make a bigger bang, and probably shock you if you replace it while there is still a short circuit.

Either way, you'll most certainly know if its been tripped/blown: You'd have no power on that circuit.
Most modern houses have half the lights on one circuit, half on another, outdoor lights on another, power outlets in an area on one circuit, another area on another circuit etc etc. Kitchen has its own. Oven sometimes has its own too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jun 2010   #7
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Wandering Flame,

I would also recommend to kill the power to the wires, then cap (yellow plastic twist cap) and/or wrap electrical tape around the ends of the exposed wires and restore power afterwards. This way you will not have to worry about them touching and can be safe until the electrician gets there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jun 2010   #8

Vista
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pebbly View Post
if you must leave it like that,then i suggest you cut the power wrap insulating tape around the bare end [seperately] and reconnect the power
Yeah...well for 3 weeks the power is on and the guy will come in tommorow..I don't know what I was thinking...by the way nothing noticeable happened nor did I necessarily hear anything go wrong. I would have the power off until tomorrow when the electrician comes, but my brothers always need the damn internet and I could not convince them to have the internet off even if I told them the house may burn down, because they would then just put the whole blame on me for doing anything in the first place and I kind of have to admit it is all my fault...I'm a failure...

I will say, as a result of no receptacle being there and while the power was on for that circuit, I realized that nearby outlets, (and, one right above that missing outlet in the upper floor) didn't work. I called an electrician and he said, when there's no receptacle there, the circuit stops to some other outlets because the missing outlets sometimes "passes" the power to those outlets...


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by xarden View Post
Quote:
By the way, what is the difference between trip, and blow? Breaker and fuse? Not saying this will happen or it happened, but if one black wire has touched a white wire will there be a way for me to determine if this happened?
You trip a breaker, and blow a fuse.

A breaker is bascially the same as a fuse, except it is in the form of a type of switch.
You will hear it click when you short circuit the wires and it trips.

It is more expensive and safer than a fuse, as you can just flick the switch and you'll have power back.
Note, if you flick the switch back on and it flicks off straight away, you still have a short circuit in your wires somewhere.

A fuse, is No.8 wire generally wrapped around two metal poles encased in a ceramic block. You should hear it go bang when you short circuit your wires. If I remember correctly, No.8 wire is 10Amps... so should only be wrapped around the poles once. Twice would make the fuse 20A. Dont do this. It will make a bigger bang, and probably shock you if you replace it while there is still a short circuit.
Ok, I kind of get what a short circuit is...though not completely...I've been reading about it but am not understanding...is it resulting from two wires of different voltages touching each other?

Also let's say a short circuit were to happen, and the breaker trips. I guess nothing huge happened here (I'm not including myself in this case) to the breaker, since, you can just switch it back on right?

But what about the wires themselves? If they touched themselves, or touched something else (I know they are touching my walls from behind, while not touching themselves per se) then will they be damaged to some extent afterwards? Would I need to replace my inside wiring, or the breaker, in the case where my wire ends have been touching the inside of my walls or could I just have the electrician cut off the old ends or something?

Of course if the fuse is "blown" then I'd probably have to get that replaced...although what's really bothering me is the inside house wiring. I'm not sure how I would go on to replace that...since that would probably involve tearing the house walls down everywhere where there is wiring.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by xarden View Post
Either way, you'll most certainly know if its been tripped/blown: You'd have no power on that circuit.
Most modern houses have half the lights on one circuit, half on another, outdoor lights on another, power outlets in an area on one circuit, another area on another circuit etc etc. Kitchen has its own. Oven sometimes has its own too.
By the way this raises another question I have been having.

To be honest for the most part, the only thing I am concerned about are the electrical outlets in my room, or the electrical wiring in my room.

And I know the switch in the power panel that powers on/off the area where I removed the outlet, is not at all associated with the outlets in my room. In other words #21 on my power panel is 3rd floor reception, which power on/off the 4 outlets in my room. The switch for the area with no outlets is associated with a different switch on the panel, #15.

So, if a breaker/fuse was to trip or blow would I need to replace something just related to that category on the power panel (like #21 or #15) or do I only have one breaker or switch that deals with the entire power panel (all the numbers on it)? Sorry if this is a noob question. I'm not the least bit of an electrician...by the way don't think I'm going to be doing anything. I just want some questions answered, and the guy will come tomorrow at 8AM.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Wandering Flame,

I would also recommend to kill the power to the wires, then cap (yellow plastic twist cap) and/or wrap electrical tape around the ends of the exposed wires and restore power afterwards. This way you will not have to worry about them touching and can be safe until the electrician gets there.
Hi Brink. I don't have what you said and the power has been on it for 3 weeks now. I know if I had the wires wrapped with electrical tape everything should be fine but it has not I had no idea it had to and for some reason I guess, I didn't see there any problem in turning the power on to those loose wires, as long as I did not have them touching each other (they're not moving right now, they're pretty firm where they are since they are hard as heck to move in the first place). I guess I didn't think there would be a problem if they were just inside my walls while not touching each other...but they are touching my walls from behind...that much I know...

That or I believe what really happened was, originally I had in my mind that I was going to remove the receptacle outlet (had it depowered via my power panel first) and after removing it I was going to keep the power off to that area.

But, I believe days later one of my brothers were complaining there was no internet.

So I believed it was something I did that turned our internet off. So, I went the switch panel and I was like "oh, let's see if this is the root cause of the problem" and I switched on the switch number that gave power to the area where I removed the outlet... and at that moment I don't think I realized this was an area where the power was supposed to be OFF.

Days later though I realized wait a minute...all the switches in the panel are on now, yet, there's no new outlet hooked up the area where I removed the old one...upon realizing this I was like oh what the hell, nothing wrong or noticeable happened so this must be fine until I get an electrician to hook up a new outlet (I bought one like a week or two ago from Home Depot). And I also wasn't so affected by this since I believed the area with no outlet had really nothing to do with the outlets in my room or the functionality of the outlets in my room...

But just starting from two days ago, I've been thinking what I've done (turning the power on to that area with no outlet on it) could have affected THE ENTIRE electrical system in the house somehow which would also include the wiring in my room, so I have been seriously depressed about all that I did regarding that stupid outlet...the only reason I removed the old one in the first place was to see how an outlet is replaced, because I've been wanting to replace the ones in my room after I think I've messed up their surfaces (rubbed them with an eraser to remove some old smudges that have been on them).

Well I'll just have to wait until tomorrow.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jun 2010   #9

Windows 7 Enterprise
 
 

Quote:
Ok, I kind of get what a short circuit is...though not completely...I've been reading about it but am not understanding...is it resulting from two wires of different voltages touching each other?

Also let's say a short circuit were to happen, and the breaker trips. I guess nothing huge happened here (I'm not including myself in this case) to the breaker, since, you can just switch it back on right?

But what about the wires themselves? If they touched themselves, or touched something else (I know they are touching my walls from behind, while not touching themselves per se) then will they be damaged to some extent afterwards? Would I need to replace my inside wiring, or the breaker, in the case where my wire ends have been touching the inside of my walls or could I just have the electrician cut off the old ends or something?

Of course if the fuse is "blown" then I'd probably have to get that replaced...although what's really bothering me is the inside house wiring. I'm not sure how I would go on to replace that...since that would probably involve tearing the house walls down everywhere where there is wiring.
If by two voltages you mean +240v and 0 (or ground), then yes. This will cause a short circuit.
(We use 220-240v here, so this will be my reference. Yours may be different)

No you wont need to replace all the internal wireing or tear down your walls. Just replace the fuse/breaker. Thats what its job is. To destroy itself, and save your wires and house.

If the amperage is high enough, the spark created from the short circuit may melt the wires together. But this depends also on the gauge of the wire.
This is also how a MiG welder works.
Wire manufacturers tend to underrate the wire for this safety reason. EG: a wire rated for 10A can carry about 20A of current before the wire gets dangerously hot to melting or fusing point.
(I didnt tell you this, and you should ALWAYS adhere to the safety ratings)
Fuse manufacturers do not underrate. A 10A fuse/breaker will blow at 10A.

Im not quite sure I follow your next question, so I'l just give an example:

In a typical apartment building for example, the power panel (distribution board) in the basement/maintenance room will have a large ceramic switch.
This is the master. Flip it and you've lost power to the entire building.
Then you may have several rows and columns.
Each row may represent a different floor, and the start of each row should have another master switch for that floor.
* Further along, there will be fuses/breakers for reception outlets, reception lights, hallway lights, hallway outlets.
** Furthermore along, (these are sometimes grouped) You'd have each room's master switch, lights, outlets, kitchen, oven. (As stated before, there may be several for different areas of lights and outlets)

* Some places I've been to have their own DB on each floor, governed by the main DB in the basement.
** Same as above for each room, governed by the DB at each floor.

And just to add extra tea in the kettle, apartments/commercial/industrial buildings all use 3-phase power. Which is then converted to single phase at or before the DB's. You dont need to worry about this. Im not going to explain it.

And there we go, just like that I've lost my train of thought.

Quote:
the only reason I removed the old one in the first place was to see how an outlet is replaced
I dont blame you. I started pulling stereos and other things apart since I was 8. Just to see how its done.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jun 2010   #10

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Wandering Flame View Post
*Sigh* sorry but this is another one of my electrical issue topics...but I think it could be serious, moreso than my other one.

I recently (like two weeks ago) removed an old duplex receptacle outlet from one of my walls. I shut it off of course while removing it and I'm pretty sure at an earlier point I was fiddling with it while the power was on and thank God nothing happened to me then...by the way, I removed it because I was curious as to how they are hooked up and how I could replace them.

So anyway it has been removed now for about two weeks, and for that span of time (two weeks) the black and white wires, as well as the ground wire have not been connected to anything...meaning they're just floating there right now, unconnected to any outlet.

I'm not really sure if this is safe...especially when power is running to that outlet. You may be wondering why I just don't turn off the power to that outlet via my switchbox/powerbox. Well the reason is, when I do that, for some reason my internet goes down since I think it turns off the main source box that gives me my FIOS internet, and, although I can live without that for a while until an electrician comes and installs my new outlet, I have two brothers who are not willing to go even one day without internet.

Obviously it is not safe in the sense that someone could put their hand in there and get shocked, however I have sealed that area off with a paper towel with "KEEP AWAY" written on it, and I'm not quite sure whether or not the cable ends are touching that paper towel from behind...but I don't even want to make sure since it'll involve touching that area and I don't know what may happen to me...but so far it didn't make a spark or fire or anything so I suppose it's not causing any reaction with the paper towel...

So, I was wondering if this at all may affect any of the other electrical wiring in my house. Meaning, could it have an effect on neighboring outlets or any of the other outlets in my house (the fact I have one old outlet removed and the wires for it are just floating where they are, unattached to anything)? Because I noticed two outlets in my house that are not really working...one seemed to go from working to not-working sometimes, but 90% of the time it doesn't work, and the other one just plain doesn't work at all...the one that doesn't work at all is an outlet close to the area where the old outlet has been removed, and the outlet that doesn't work 90% of the time is in a whole different floor on my house.

My #1 concern now is if, the fact I have one removed outlet with the wires for it floating around unnattached is going to affect other outlets in the house (I'm really only concerned about the outlets in my room), and as I said it seems to have affected two outlets (I know I have everything turned on in my switchbox/powerbox so I know this isn't an issue) but has not really affected any of my room outlets...but I am afraid of plugging any more things in my room, since I have no idea what this may cause considering there's one outlet area in my house with floating unnattached wires...

You wont affect any of the other outlets but there is EXTREME DANGER leaving the wires hanging loose. Remember we are a windows forum, and you should really be asking an electrician. If nothing else turn off the power and put wire nuts and tape over any exposed wires.

BE CAREFUL


Ken
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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