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  #1  
Old 10-01-2012, 04:36 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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space heater cord got hot

last winter I used a space heater in the bathroom to make it a place I could tolerate while wet.

but the cord always got hot and eventually I stopped using it - I assume it is not safe.
how do I know if it's the space heater (a cheapy) or the outlet? or the wiring?

what should I do? besides move, I mean.
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  #2  
Old 10-01-2012, 04:45 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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if the cord or plug got hot then that is undersized. it is a hazard because the insulation could fail leading to a shock hazard to you while using or unplugging.

a safer heater to use in a bathroom is an oil filled one, often they are styled to the shape similar to old steam radiators, much smaller though. there are no exposed electrical or heated wires which are a problem in a bathroom.

also dry yourself quicker with thick absorbent towels.
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  #3  
Old 10-01-2012, 05:05 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
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The outlet or house wiring isn't going to cause the cord to get hot, unless you mean the plug itself is getting hot but not the cord, which can be due to a poor connection in the outlet. Otherwise, it is an undersized cord, as long as you aren't coiling it up, which can make even properly rated cords overheat (such appliances don't usually have long cords though). Of course, any cord handling significant current will get warm to the touch, but it certainly shouldn't get uncomfortably hot.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:14 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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it's the plug first and then the cord as well. it's not coiled up and I never touch it wet.

sounds like I need to just buy something new & better. thanks.
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  #5  
Old 10-01-2012, 07:21 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is online now
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Has this heater always done this or has it happened over time?

The wires inside the cord's insulation tend to break first right at the plug- that's why we're taught to never yank the plug out by the cord. Some of the wires breaking there will cause the cord to be functionally undersized, causing it to heat up.

I have fixed such problems by replacing the plug with a heavy-duty one. Don't try this if you don't know what you're doing.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:24 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by california jobcase View Post
Has this heater always done this or has it happened over time?

The wires inside the cord's insulation tend to break first right at the plug- that's why we're taught to never yank the plug out by the cord. Some of the wires breaking there will cause the cord to be functionally undersized, causing it to heat up.

I have fixed such problems by replacing the plug with a heavy-duty one. Don't try this if you don't know what you're doing.
now that I think of it, it happened over time. I was thinking it only happens now because I am in a different house but it might be the former years of yanking it out by the cord. (that's supposed to look like embarrassment?)

well, this is good news since I was afraid it was the house. now I can get a new one and enjoy my winter ablutions.
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  #7  
Old 10-02-2012, 10:43 AM
awldune awldune is offline
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Are we talking about the cord getting warm, or hot enough that it might burn you if you held it for a long time?

Almost any electrical heater cord is going to warm up noticably. It is entirely possible that your heater is functioning as intended.
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  #8  
Old 10-02-2012, 07:39 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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Quote:
Almost any electrical heater cord is going to warm up noticably. It is entirely possible that your heater is functioning as intended.
not just warm but very hot. make you say "ouch" hot.

I'm pretty sure it's not normal or safe. (but not entirely or I wouldn't have posted)
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  #9  
Old 10-02-2012, 08:02 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackieLikesVariety View Post
not just warm but very hot. make you say "ouch" hot.

I'm pretty sure it's not normal or safe. (but not entirely or I wouldn't have posted)
Stop using it immediately. As mentioned, the cord is undersized for the amperage draw. If you want to keep the heater, look for a plate or sticker that tells you what the full load amperage is, then come back here and have johnpost tell you what sized wire should be used. You (or somebody braver, maybe) can probably replace the cord and plug with one appropriately sized. Also, check to see if the heater is UL approved. There should be a sticker with the UL seal on it (see the seal example on the right side of the wiki article). If there isn't one, get rid of the heater.
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  #10  
Old 10-02-2012, 10:53 PM
Philster Philster is offline
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If it is older and uses something likes a blower, and older blower motor might be worn or in need of maintenance, and this might be drawing too much current to run at speed.
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  #11  
Old 10-02-2012, 11:24 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster View Post
If it is older and uses something likes a blower, and older blower motor might be worn or in need of maintenance, and this might be drawing too much current to run at speed.
I'm wondering if this could be the problem too; the cord would have to be very undersized and/or the current draw very high, and really too much for a 15 amp outlet (breaker), for it to get burning hot. Looking at a few cords that have wire gauge and amp ratings on them, the 18 gauge cords say 10 amps and a 16 gauge cord says 15 amps; a heater would probably use at least 16 gauge wire if it is near 10 amps or more. Note that the standards for house wiring, where 15 amps would use 14 gauge wire, are actually very conservative and are based more on allowable voltage drop; 18 gauge wire can handle up to 16 amps (and that is still conservative for wires in free air!).
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  #12  
Old 10-03-2012, 03:57 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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thanks, everyone, that old space heater? it's outta here! it's in the bin!

I'm going to get me a brand new one.
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