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Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

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Clariman
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Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247040

Postby Clariman » August 26th, 2019, 11:47 am

Mrs C was ironing just now and switched the iron off at the switch on a double socket and there was a significant flash and a bang, which tripped the circuit breaker for the upstairs sockets.

We plugged the iron into another socket and the power light went on so it isn't dead. When switched off at the socket there was no issue.

So what do we get checked? The iron, the double-socket or the whole circuit?

Thanks
C

Itsallaguess
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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247046

Postby Itsallaguess » August 26th, 2019, 11:56 am

Clariman wrote:
Mrs C was ironing just now and switched the iron off at the switch on a double socket and there was a significant flash and a bang, which tripped the circuit breaker for the upstairs sockets.

We plugged the iron into another socket and the power light went on so it isn't dead. When switched off at the socket there was no issue.

So what do we get checked? The iron, the double-socket or the whole circuit?


It sounds like the double-socket has blown.

If it was being switched off at the socket 'under-load', meaning that the iron was generating heat at the time, then such a process does place some strain on the switching-mechanism of sockets, and if this has generally always been 'the iron socket' historically, then I imagine it's had quite a period of aggregated time supplying quite a large single-load, so the socket and it's switching-circuit may well have been degenerated generally, when compared to a new one.

It should be a fairly simply swap-out with a new double-socket. I always try to use MK sockets if possible, as I've always found them to be well made and reliable -

https://www.screwfix.com/p/mk-logic-plu ... hite/15747

Of course you'll need to isolate the socket circuit, and confirm isolation with a lit table lamp or similar, before working on replacing the damaged socket.

One tip for socket replacements - when you've got all the wiring back into the new socket, and the screws nice and tight, is to then carefully push the socket back into position against the back-box, as though you were going to screw the socket face back onto it, don't actually screw the faceplate on at that point, but instead pull the socket away from the wall again slightly, just enough to give access to the connection-screws at the back of the socket, and then give the screws one final tighten-check.

Given what is often a bit of a cable-push to get the sockets and any cable-loops back into the back-box, if the strain of doing so causes any issues with the rear connection-screws, then this final tighten-check will make sure any potential problems are minimised....

Also make sure that no cable-loops behind the socket face-plate are sitting in the left and right areas where the face-plate screws go into the back-box - the faceplate screws are fairly lengthy sometimes, and you don't want to be screwing into any cables as you finalise the job...

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247047

Postby Clariman » August 26th, 2019, 12:10 pm

Thanks itsallaguess

The socket is less than a year old but is the one most used for ironing. The same socket had a fan on during the night because of the temperature. Would that have had an impact on its behaviour this morning?

Cheers
C

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247049

Postby Itsallaguess » August 26th, 2019, 12:16 pm

Clariman wrote:
The socket is less than a year old but is the one most used for ironing.

The same socket had a fan on during the night because of the temperature. Would that have had an impact on its behaviour this morning?


I wouldn't imagine so - most fans will be low power and shouldn't normally cause any sort of over-heating issues on local sockets.

It's worth you checking the iron plug, given that this will have been in the same area as the initial 'bang' when the socket was switched off. High-current things like irons can be pretty unforgiving of border-line wiring issues, so there's a chance the plug wiring may be part of the issue here too, and given that it's a simple check then it's worth doing before proceeding with a socket swap-out.

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247132

Postby Clariman » August 26th, 2019, 6:04 pm

Itsallaguess wrote:
Clariman wrote:
The socket is less than a year old but is the one most used for ironing.

The same socket had a fan on during the night because of the temperature. Would that have had an impact on its behaviour this morning?


I wouldn't imagine so - most fans will be low power and shouldn't normally cause any sort of over-heating issues on local sockets.

It's worth you checking the iron plug, given that this will have been in the same area as the initial 'bang' when the socket was switched off. High-current things like irons can be pretty unforgiving of border-line wiring issues, so there's a chance the plug wiring may be part of the issue here too, and given that it's a simple check then it's worth doing before proceeding with a socket swap-out.

Cheers,

Itsallaguess


Hmmm. I've just got round to seeing if the socket still works. Both plug sockets on that double still work. I can't check the iron plug because it is one of those sealed units. So what do you think now - ditch the iron or the socket or both?!

Thanks

jfgw
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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247135

Postby jfgw » August 26th, 2019, 6:30 pm

The iron is very unlikely to be at fault. If it was taking enough current to trip an mcb or rcbo, it would have done so while it was powered, not as it was being switched off.

Sometimes, plugs and sockets can overheat. This may be seen as burning on one of the pins of the plug and/or the corresponding hole in the socket. If this happens, both the plug and the socket should be replaced. If the plug has been used in other sockets, or if other plugs have been used with that socket, other plugs and sockets may be affected too - it's like an STD.

In this instance, the fault will be with the socket. While you may see a small flash when switching something off, it should not go bang and it should not trip anything. The flash, if seen, may vary depending upon where in the mains cycle the switch was thrown but it should not be what I would call "significant".

Replace the socket with a good quality new one. If there is any sign of overheating of either the plug or around one of the holes of the socket, replace the plug on the iron too.

Julian F. G. W.

Itsallaguess
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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247142

Postby Itsallaguess » August 26th, 2019, 7:52 pm

Clariman wrote:
Hmmm. I've just got round to seeing if the socket still works.

Both plug sockets on that double still work.

I can't check the iron plug because it is one of those sealed units.

So what do you think now - ditch the iron or the socket or both?!


I bet you never tested it with a 2.5kW iron though....:O)

I agree with Julian that the safest way to proceed would be to replace both...

If the socket is a relatively new one, do you know where it came from?

There are lots of cheap electrical fittings available nowadays, and there's a time and place for some of them, but I wouldn't use anything other than MK for my double-sockets, and especially if they are going to get regular use by irons or kettles...

Have a sniff of the double-socket - do you smell anything un-towards? Burning, or 'hot-for-long-periods' electrics give off a really quite distinct smell....

For the sake of a couple of quid, there's not much point in continuing to use either the plug or the socket in this instance.

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247157

Postby dubre » August 26th, 2019, 10:15 pm

I would remark that it is very rare for the fault to be on the ring circuit or socket outlets.99% of the time the fault lies with the appliance.

just because the power light is lit on the iron does not mean there is not or was not a fault on the iron.Does the iron work over its full range on another s/o? have you tried another iron in the original s/o?

who needs to iron anyway!

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247158

Postby 88V8 » August 26th, 2019, 10:54 pm

Have a good look at the heatproof iron cord. They wear, and can fracture internally.

Ours is plugged into a socket (MK) that was already c40 years old when I installed it. Old house, so I use old electrical fittings.
One can get a plug-in tester for sockets.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Borbede-Outl ... Sw4R1dY~Jl although it doesn't apply a load.

Our iron itself was a wedding present umm, 45 years ago. I have replaced the cord at least once.

V8

PS I gather that Snowflakes think ironing superfluous.

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247159

Postby jfgw » August 26th, 2019, 11:04 pm

Given the evidence, I am confident that the fault was with the socket. The trip tripped when the socket was switched off suggesting that something shorted when the switch was operated.

I will add that, while mcbs and fuses have different characteristics, I think it unlikely for the (probably) 13A fuse in the plug to remain intact while the (probably) 32A mcb tripped if the fault was with the iron.

If you dismantle the socket, I think you will see where the short occurred.

Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247170

Postby Dod101 » August 27th, 2019, 7:09 am

88V8 wrote:Have a good look at the heatproof iron cord. They wear, and can fracture internally.

Ours is plugged into a socket (MK) that was already c40 years old when I installed it. Old house, so I use old electrical fittings.
One can get a plug-in tester for sockets.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Borbede-Outl ... Sw4R1dY~Jl although it doesn't apply a load.

Our iron itself was a wedding present umm, 45 years ago. I have replaced the cord at least once..


I doubt very much that anyone would recommend using a 45 year old iron on grounds of efficiency and weight if nothing else. You can buy a new one for about £30.

Dod

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247185

Postby bungeejumper » August 27th, 2019, 9:11 am

Radial cracks on the socket? Burning or erosion on the pins of the iron's plug?

We once had a 2kw electric heater which literally welded itself into its socket. Because that socket was where it "lived", we had never thought to remove it. It was, you may say, a bit of a shock when we were unable to unplug it. And the socket was a quality brand, and it had been professionally installed only a year earlier. Didn't take long to replace it, fortunately.

My money would be on a poor quality moulded plug.

BJ

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247188

Postby Clariman » August 27th, 2019, 9:17 am

The socket was installed less than a year ago as part of a complete bedroom refit (including stud walls being moved) and it was new wiring and new socket. It is still under warranty so electrician coming tomorrow morning to replace and I'll ask him to confirm if it looks like the socket.

Thanks everyone.
C

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247274

Postby 88V8 » August 27th, 2019, 3:07 pm

Dod101 wrote:I doubt very much that anyone would recommend using a 45 year old iron on grounds of efficiency and weight if nothing else. You can buy a new one for about £30.


Dod!
You disgraceful person!
It's only 45 years old, we're supposed to be saving the planet.
.... throwaway society, mutter.

We have had newer irons. Steamers for the most part. They either expired or were found wanting. OH in fact prefers this one because it's light, and I like it because there's nothing much to go wrong.
Our socket had better not be at risk, as it's a cream double with plinth, and shared with the PC to boot.

In my experience, modern fuse boards are overprone to trip at the least provocation, even a blown bulb at times plunges the whole house into darkness.
Bring back proper fuses, I say.

Do recall many years ago in our first house accidentally trying to cut through the lead cable from the Board's fuse to the meter, with a pair of uninsulated pliers. Blew a chunk out of the pliers - which I still have - but didn't blow the fuse. Fuses were made of sterner stuff in those days.

V8

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247296

Postby Dod101 » August 27th, 2019, 4:09 pm

I take your point 88V8 and if Mrs 88V8 is happy then I would not be doing anything about replacing it either. I have recently had to buy a new steam iron and it is light and efficient I must say.

Before I converted most of my bulbs either into LED or the low energy ones anyway, I regularly used to have the circuit go as well but it was a lot easier than in the old days of a fuse box because I all had to do was replace the bulb and flick a switch but what I could not/cannot understand is why the fuse in the plug would blow as well as the entire circuit. Since I now have nearly all long life bulbs the problem is much less frequent I must say.

Dod

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247338

Postby jfgw » August 27th, 2019, 6:36 pm

Clariman wrote:The socket was installed less than a year ago as part of a complete bedroom refit (including stud walls being moved) and it was new wiring and new socket. It is still under warranty so electrician coming tomorrow morning to replace and I'll ask him to confirm if it looks like the socket.
C


Is there any chance you could look at the old socket and make a note of the brand? Maybe even pull it apart and let us know if there are any burn marks?

Another very remote possibility is that a wire is damaged and is almost touching something-else. Pressing the switch may have flexed the socket just enough to cause a bang.

Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247441

Postby Clariman » August 28th, 2019, 11:09 am

jfgw wrote:
Clariman wrote:The socket was installed less than a year ago as part of a complete bedroom refit (including stud walls being moved) and it was new wiring and new socket. It is still under warranty so electrician coming tomorrow morning to replace and I'll ask him to confirm if it looks like the socket.
C


Is there any chance you could look at the old socket and make a note of the brand? Maybe even pull it apart and let us know if there are any burn marks?

Another very remote possibility is that a wire is damaged and is almost touching something-else. Pressing the switch may have flexed the socket just enough to cause a bang.

Julian F. G. W.


The electrician has replaced the socket to be on the safe side. It was made by British General. There were no burn marks evident on or in it, nor on the iron's plug. He said that if it had been an earthing problem, the RCD would have tripped rather than the individual circuit trip switch. He doesn't think it would be the iron. The only thing he could think of was that the socket switch was faults and had arced.

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247444

Postby bungeejumper » August 28th, 2019, 11:16 am

Glad you got a result. Well done. :D

BJ

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247520

Postby csearle » August 28th, 2019, 2:55 pm

Clariman wrote:The only thing he could think of was that the socket switch was faults and had arced.
Well if there is any kind of inductive load, which your Iron may well be then, depending upon when in the cycle the switch disconnects, it most certainly will arc. That shouldn't cause an over-current though as the load would limit the current*.

Not sure what it could have been other than a momentary short circuit (probably near where movement occured).

Chris
* Not so in the case of a filament lamp where the arc can effectively replace the filament (the load).

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Re: Electric trip - check the socket or the iron?

#247526

Postby dubre » August 28th, 2019, 3:22 pm

is the iron now in use?


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