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  #1  
Old 10-16-2011, 09:29 AM
pop1moretime pop1moretime is offline
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electrical socket making loud poping sound

We are having the strangest electrical popping sound coming from a wall socket, but theres nothing plugged in on the circuit??????
We have changed the socket, all others on the circuit have been checked for loose wires, but still it makes a loud electrical short/mini explosion like it's just burnt something out.
Any ideas why this may have just started, or why there are no electrical burn marks. I'm open to ideas. thanx pop1mortime
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2011, 09:34 AM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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The wiring is probably "daisy-chained" through this outlet. Shut off the power, pull it out of the wall and replace it.
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  #3  
Old 10-16-2011, 09:46 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
The wiring is probably "daisy-chained" through this outlet. Shut off the power, pull it out of the wall and replace it.
preferably before it starts a fire.
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  #4  
Old 10-16-2011, 10:20 AM
Baracus Baracus is offline
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Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
The wiring is probably "daisy-chained" through this outlet. Shut off the power, pull it out of the wall and replace it.
Based on the second line of their OP it appears they already did that.

Personally at this point I would probably shut off the breaker to that circuit and call an electrician.

In the interest of getting more information though, does the popping sound correspond to turning anything on or off, or is it at random? Do any lights flash or anything when it pops?
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  #5  
Old 10-16-2011, 10:29 AM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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Those popping sounds are usually accompanied by a burning smell or the scent of ozone. If you don't smell that and you've changed and/or checked all the outlets I'd be worried the sound was coming from the wiring inside the walls.
IMO, the next step would be to cut the power and check for shorts.

Have you recently hung any pictures where you may have driven a nail into a wire?
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  #6  
Old 10-16-2011, 05:08 PM
Al Bundy Al Bundy is offline
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Listen up

Why not listen and look for the pop with the cover plate removed? The sound you describe is arcing and that can cause a fire. If it's contained in the box, you probably will be safe, but you don't know for sure there is not a short close to the box or in the wall. If in doubt, get a professional in there immediately.
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  #7  
Old 10-16-2011, 06:03 PM
thelabdude thelabdude is offline
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How many wires are there in the box? If there is a number of connections beside the wires to the socket, check them. You could also have a wire broken off inside the insulation. Take a good look at everything in the box with the power off.
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  #8  
Old 10-16-2011, 07:37 PM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baracus View Post
Based on the second line of their OP it appears they already did that.

Personally at this point I would probably shut off the breaker to that circuit and call an electrician.

In the interest of getting more information though, does the popping sound correspond to turning anything on or off, or is it at random? Do any lights flash or anything when it pops?
(bolding mine)

This may or may not be relevant...
How old of a house / wiring are you talking about? Older houses had what is called 'knob and tube' wiring. This consists of wiring that was commonly insulated with 'fabric'. The wires inside of the walls were separated from each other, with the wires being supported / strung on separate ceramic 'knobs' or posts. With age the fabric covering used as an insulating material becomes brittle and this usually isn't a problem except where the wires come together as they enter the box.

If you just started hearing these 'popping' noises since you had the plugs changed, this may be the spot where the sounds are coming from. In the course of changing out the plug, the wires were moved around and could have caused some of the brittle insulation to flake/fall off of the wires.

As Al Bundy said,
Quote:
If in doubt, get a professional in there immediately.
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  #9  
Old 10-16-2011, 07:45 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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A long shot maybe, but are you sure it's electrical popping? Not popping from metal ductwork in the same wall cavity heating up when the furnace comes on, or something like that?
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  #10  
Old 10-16-2011, 07:53 PM
Uber_the_Goober Uber_the_Goober is offline
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12 hours and they haven't returned to update.

Maybe they burned the house down?

Calling the OP!!! What's crackin'?
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  #11  
Old 10-16-2011, 11:44 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Given that it was described as a "poping" sound, maybe they're waiting for advice from the Vatican.
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  #12  
Old 10-17-2011, 01:44 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is online now
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Sounds like a short to me. I'd call an electrician. (Also, if you ever hear a "popping" sound when you turn a light switch off or on, it's time to cut off the power and replace it.)
Would it be alright to recount an experience here? Not trying to "highjack" or anything...
We lived in a very old farm house for awhile, and every time there was an electrical storm fireballs would shoot out of the plugs down near the floor. My brother and I would literally jump them as they shot across the floor like mini bowling balls. Then we started going outside to sit in the truck whenever a storm came over, because we figured the rubber tires made it a safer place to be than staying in the house.
I know the wiring must have been bad and it's a wonder the house didn't burn down, but why did the fireballs only come out of the lower outlets instead of all of them?
(I put this in because it looks like a lot of "electricity-minded" people are looking at this thread.)

Last edited by Becky2844; 10-17-2011 at 01:45 AM..
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  #13  
Old 10-17-2011, 09:06 AM
thelabdude thelabdude is offline
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Interesting question. My first guess is that they were on a different circuit and somehow more affected by the lightning. How many stories was the house? If a single story, the lower outlets may have been wired through the cellar and the upper ones the attic.
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  #14  
Old 10-17-2011, 09:56 AM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echo6160 View Post
12 hours and they haven't returned to update.

Maybe they burned the house down?

Calling the OP!!! What's crackin'?
Over 24 hours and still no update from the OP, let's hope they figured out the problem and just haven't had the time to post a status report.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
Sounds like a short to me. I'd call an electrician. (Also, if you ever hear a "popping" sound when you turn a light switch off or on, it's time to cut off the power and replace it.)
Would it be alright to recount an experience here? Not trying to "highjack" or anything...
We lived in a very old farm house for awhile, and every time there was an electrical storm fireballs would shoot out of the plugs down near the floor. My brother and I would literally jump them as they shot across the floor like mini bowling balls. Then we started going outside to sit in the truck whenever a storm came over, because we figured the rubber tires made it a safer place to be than staying in the house.
I know the wiring must have been bad and it's a wonder the house didn't burn down, but why did the fireballs only come out of the lower outlets instead of all of them?
(I put this in because it looks like a lot of "electricity-minded" people are looking at this thread.)
(bolding mine)

"... fireballs would shoot out of the plugs down near the floor. My brother and I would literally jump them as they shot across the floor like mini bowling balls. ..."

WTF?!
A "fireball" as opposed to a spark? And "shot across the floor like mini bowling balls"?
How far did these 'fireballs' travel away from the wall and can you describe how big they were?

I'm trying to form a 'mental' picture of what you're describing, and what I parse from your description is a small ball of fire travelling a far enough distance from the wall that would require y'all to literally jump over them in order to keep from being struck.

The first thing that jumped up to me was that the house electrical system may not have been properly grounded, or for that matter, not grounded at all.

Personally, I think I would have remained inside, instead of taking shelter in a truck outside of the house, and for more than one reason.
First, I would want to stay inside so that I might be able to extinguish any fires that the 'fireballs' may have started.

Second, (and this is something that I learned right here on the SDMB) vehicles are not as safe a haven, as what is commonly assumed.
(Don't feel bad, I used to think that vehicles were just about as safe a place to be as anything, during a lightning storm.)

There's a thread here on the SDMB that addresses that very issue. I'll try to find it and post a link.
Or maybe a benevolent Mod or Doper will assist us and 'beat me to the draw', so to speak.
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  #15  
Old 10-17-2011, 10:00 AM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Found it!

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...htning+vehicle
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  #16  
Old 10-17-2011, 10:35 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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If the OP replaced the outlet, then the next thing I'd check is where the wiring enters the outlet box. As mentioned, the insulation may be worn through and it's arcing against the metal enclosure.

Important note: TURN OFF THE CIRCUIT BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO DO THIS.
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  #17  
Old 10-18-2011, 06:42 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelabdude View Post
Interesting question. My first guess is that they were on a different circuit and somehow more affected by the lightning. How many stories was the house? If a single story, the lower outlets may have been wired through the cellar and the upper ones the attic.
Two storey, no basement thelabdude.
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  #18  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:09 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is online now
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Originally Posted by JBDivmstr View Post
Read the link, thnx. Now there'd be NO place safe to go. lol (Luckily not in that situation anymore.)
You're right. They had to have been sparks but they "looked" like fire. About the size of baseballs and they would "roll, shoot" out at least halfway across the floor. We were afraid that if they touched us we'd be electrocuted. Didn't even think about a fire.
The farmhouse was really old, possibly built in the late 1800's. Two-storey. Our only source of heat was the fireplaces in almost every room, until the parents bought a WarmMorning heater for the upstairs (which had grates, too, but remained teeth-chatteringly cold.) No original bathroom, but somebody had put one OUT ON THE SIDE PORCH. lol So it was probably built before electricity had got out to that part of the country, and before having an indoor bathroom was considered a necessity.
Beautiful house. I could tell you more about it if anybody's interested. But not very safe, I'm thinking.
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  #19  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:24 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is online now
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The reason I said "before electricity" etc. is because the light switches and stuff were the regular kind, so probably wired later. The house we had moved from had been built very early 1900's (in town) and you turned the lights off and on by pushing in two buttons, so was modern by those standards.
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  #20  
Old 10-18-2011, 04:49 PM
Uber_the_Goober Uber_the_Goober is offline
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Drive by posters are so stinking annoying...

The OP will probably never be back. Considering the attachment of their name to their problem, as soon as it is resolved they'll just disappear. Like a dust bunny in an electrical storm at Becky2844's house.
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  #21  
Old 10-18-2011, 06:19 PM
thelabdude thelabdude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
The reason I said "before electricity" etc. is because the light switches and stuff were the regular kind, so probably wired later. The house we had moved from had been built very early 1900's (in town) and you turned the lights off and on by pushing in two buttons, so was modern by those standards.
Yes I remember those switches. Mostly in the church I grew up in. I think it was built inthe 20's.
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  #22  
Old 10-18-2011, 10:44 PM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is online now
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Originally Posted by echo6160 View Post
Drive by posters are so stinking annoying...

The OP will probably never be back. Considering the attachment of their name to their problem, as soon as it is resolved they'll just disappear. Like a dust bunny in an electrical storm at Becky2844's house.
You scared the shit out of me. I thought I was going to get yelled at for "highjacking."
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  #23  
Old 10-19-2011, 07:59 AM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echo6160 View Post
Drive by posters are so stinking annoying...

The OP will probably never be back. Considering the attachment of their name to their problem, as soon as it is resolved they'll just disappear. Like a dust bunny in an electrical storm at Becky2844's house.
(bolding mine)

Yeah, it kind of pisses me off that this one hasn't bothered to update and let us know if the problem was resolved.

Drive by posters can be such inconsiderate bastards.
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