Thread Number: 68199  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Burnin' the house down
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Post# 909256   12/1/2016 at 14:46 (566 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

I know the old adage about never running an extentsion cord under a rug. BUT, I need to get power to a 25 watt lamp in the grand hall of the mini-manse. Electrician can't even start here till mid January. The cord would run under an oriental and cross a seldom used doorway. The only person that would be walking over/near the buried cord would be me and I would step over it. Sooooo, how stupid is this idea?

Post# 909258 , Reply# 1   12/1/2016 at 14:49 (566 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Coming from a family who caused a long line of electrical fires, I'd say don't do it.  If you must, I believe you can get a cable channel to run over the rug but that will protect the cord.  

Post# 909259 , Reply# 2   12/1/2016 at 14:49 (566 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I wouldn't. Put it in a cable channel. They're cheap

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Many are also quite flat. Second thought, could you run a 12 volt lamp?

Post# 909264 , Reply# 3   12/1/2016 at 16:28 (566 days old) by luxflairguy (Wilmington NC)        

No!  Despite all your best intentions it WILL get stepped on!  and one thing no one has said is that if, and I mean if, it causes a fire, I don't think your insurance company will cover the damage.  There isn't a outlet anywhere close by, like on the other side of the wall?  I've added plugs countless times where I needed them by tapping into an outlet on the other side of the wall.  I even put an oulet in my pantry closet for the microwave by going through the wall.  Easy to do!  Greg

Post# 909265 , Reply# 4   12/1/2016 at 16:44 (566 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

Lux, one of the joys of owning an historic house is how to be creative with extension cords! The last owner of this house had some outlets put in, but in stupid places. So I'm stuck till sparky gets here. Plus the 100yr old plaster walls are not easy to deal with. Never thought of the cable channel, I check it out. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Post# 909266 , Reply# 5   12/1/2016 at 16:53 (566 days old) by luxflairguy (Wilmington NC)        

I didn't know it was historic!  That makes ALL the difference in the world!  But now you've gotten me jealous!  I've always dreamed of owning one.  Worked in one for 34 years, but not the same...!  I've always live in 50's era homes.  Maybe one plug per wall.  My new digs (2006) has so many plugs I have a hard time choosing.  What I can't understand in 2 rooms is why there are plugs behind doors in corners....code!

If you dress up for Christmas, how about a pic or two!  G

Post# 909272 , Reply# 6   12/1/2016 at 17:02 (566 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

Lux, this is my second Historic house. The first one has taken over 15yrs to get where I wanted and $$ spent were scary. It's still up for sale but I moved into another one. Living in one is an experience, particularly the utilities bills. I served as Vice Chair of the Hysteric Commission here in Monticello for 8 yrs. I always suggest a buyer speak to some owners prior to dropping the hammer.

Post# 909278 , Reply# 7   12/1/2016 at 17:43 (566 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I hear you

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Live in a house built in the 19th century.

I've learned to use wireless technology and 12volt LED lighting for many things. Saved a lot of money and torn up walls.

Post# 909297 , Reply# 8   12/1/2016 at 19:37 (566 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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Why didn't we have the same technology when I had those old apartment buildings. they were all pre 1900 buildings. I did what knew what to do for the times in the 80's before I took an Energy Auditing course. Finally I said I am out of here and let the new owners deal with the crap, sold all them and here I am now at my families converted camp. In the mid 90's I did everything right for energy efficiency when converting it to year round and I have got a huge payback after 20 plus years. I put outlets and separate breakers for everything even though every inside wall was torn out and totally replaced. Worth every cent to turn a 1959 into a today place that I originally grew up in as a kid.

Post# 909311 , Reply# 9   12/1/2016 at 22:47 (565 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

Panthera, Monticello had ele very early thanks to the damn and power house. My other house still has the ceramic tubes where the mains came into the attic. When I got it it was still all knob and tube with a 60 amp fuse box. I had it completely rewired and put in 200 amp service. My next store neighbor put in 400 amp service in his. Of course, after the rewire there was HVAC, plumbing, roof, leveling floors, repairing plaster, the list goes on forever! The mini-manse thankfully has had a good bit of rewiring already done and an almost new gas-pack. Plus the kitchen has been re-done and the appliances are relatively new, but all BOL.

Post# 909313 , Reply# 10   12/1/2016 at 22:57 (565 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Nothing wrong with BOL

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What ain't there can't break.

And yes, old houses have their little ways. Wouldn't change it for a ticky-tacky little box though. Not in a million years.

This post was last edited 12/02/2016 at 03:44
Post# 909320 , Reply# 11   12/2/2016 at 00:43 (565 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

Just a thought: on eBay you can buy USB lamps that have 1 to 36 LEDs and plug into a USB port. I have one stuck into a power pack and use it for bedroom fun evening activities when you don;t really want a light on but still need to see. You could set a few up behind some period pieces. Cheap and no worries about electrical fires :-)


Just a thought,



Post# 909372 , Reply# 12   12/2/2016 at 13:25 (565 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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Nothing wrong with running an extension under a rug as long as the cord isn't loaded to the point of generating significant heat. 25 watts at 120v is .2 amps, there will be no heating in the cord. I would be hesitant to plug a 1500w heater in though.

Foot traffic on the cord won't hurt it either, I have a cord here at work that the fork lift has run over a few hundred times.

It is always a good idea to be cautious, but being reasonable is good too.

Post# 909405 , Reply# 13   12/2/2016 at 20:21 (565 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

KB, thanks for the info. I didn't think the wattage of the lamp would call too much of a problem, but "Safety First". After that you're on your own!

Post# 910018 , Reply# 14   12/7/2016 at 11:33 (560 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        
Speaking of burnin the house down...

I went to dinner last night and found this...

I was ready to call the fire department and located the nearest exit just in case.

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Post# 910023 , Reply# 15   12/7/2016 at 12:42 (560 days old) by oldskool (Kansas City, MO)        
Agree with...

KB & GusHerb....

....a 25 watt bulb should be no problem unless the cord is frayed or otherwise damaged. And yes, to the opposite end of the spectrum, the pictures of an improperly energized space heater would likely cause a disaster.

Another idea? To minimize concerns, what about an LED bulb replacement, that would likely use even less current, or a battery powered LED light? Just ideas. Although we've used more current with longer cords and haven't had problems, but typically use a heavy extension cord with fuse capacity that will shut it off if a problem arises, and also have smoke detectors in every room.

Just my 2 cents worth.


Post# 910025 , Reply# 16   12/7/2016 at 12:55 (560 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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But Jonathan, you will note that nothing caught fire. Yes it is dicey for sure to be running kilowatt heaters on marginal cords like that, but as long as the cords don't overheat it poses no problem. Cords in open air will likely stay cool, or at least you will see the smoke faster if and when it arises.

Heck it doesn't even wreck the heaters efficiency since the heat just comes from the cord instead lol

Post# 910026 , Reply# 17   12/7/2016 at 12:58 (560 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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There are also plastic conduits that have an adhesive strip on the back. You can attach these conduits to the baseboard and run a heavy duty extension cord through it to the location where you need an outlet. This way you don't need to run a cord under a rug and the cord is kept neatly out of site. I've used a set up like this for our pellet stove for almost 20 years now. It's easy, safe and inexpensive.


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This post was last edited 12/07/2016 at 15:17
Post# 910030 , Reply# 18   12/7/2016 at 13:30 (560 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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Post# 910059 , Reply# 19   12/7/2016 at 18:29 (560 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

Call me a pessimist, but I'm willing to bet most using marginal cords with electric heaters are the type who think "The plugs fit together. Therefore there is no problem and there's nothing further to consider." If you tried to explain the need to keep the cords in the open air, the possibility of the cords overheating, etc. you'd most likely be regarded as trying to cause a problem and be ignored. That's my experience, at least.

Whenever I've had to use an electric heater with a long extension cord I use one of my a/c or snowblower cords. It might be overkill but I don't have to worry:-)


Post# 910063 , Reply# 20   12/7/2016 at 19:00 (560 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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Years ago I was working with some local bar bands, handling some of the sound and lighting duties. I owned a 120 foot long hank of 4 conductor 4awg SO portable power cable. We were playing one show with a bigger headliner band. We had the wise idea that we'd just hang all the lights from both bands. Most all the cans were PAR64's with 500 or 1000 watt lamps, there were about 50-60 fixtures along with a few small pin spots etc.

About 1/2 way through the show, I was doing a walk around and checking up on things and I grabbed the cable and it was HOT, not so as you couldn't touch it but over 100 deg F for sure. This cable is about 1-1/4" in diameter. I did some quick mental math and figured the total lighting load to be around 30,000 watts. This would mean about 125 amps per hot in that cable! The even more crazy part was that I was connected into an open 200m main panel with Mueller clips (photo) directly to the bus plates.

I don't disagree that it always is a good idea to err on the side of caution, especially if the wiring is used when unsupervised. But just because there is a little cable warming, doesn't mean there is a problem. I worry more about the plugs and outlets, that is often were the concentrated resistance is and why your vacuum cleaner plug sometimes feels warm when you unplug it.

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Post# 910076 , Reply# 21   12/7/2016 at 20:48 (560 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

What you said gives me chills down my spine. Not the cord being hot but dealing with that much power and getting it from the bus bar of the panel like that, and it's amazing the main breaker didn't trip assuming there was other loads on that panel. Oh and not to mention how the meter must've been spinning!

I wasn't at all concerned about the cord overheating, those cords are usually 16 gauge I think and most cords coming out of space heaters are 16 gauge. I'm concerned about the plug making poor contact and the fire starting there, those cords don't have very strong contacts. I have had an outlet with a window A/C plugged into it start smoldering on me because the contacts weren't gripping tightly enough.

Post# 910087 , Reply# 22   12/7/2016 at 22:47 (559 days old) by abcomatic (Bradford, Illinois)        

I know what you are going through. My house was built in 1897 as a wedding present.
When I move in here, I had a 40 amp service! My brother is an electrician and we rewired this place. The only knob and tube that is still used is in the light fixture in the dining room, foyer and the back hall light upstairs from the kitchen.
We have electric candles in every window and use extension cords that are much larger than needed, none of which are walked over. So far so good. Have a good Christmas and happy lighting. Gary

Post# 910433 , Reply# 23   12/10/2016 at 03:36 (557 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Hippo clips in a main panel!!!???This is an accident waiting to happen.Most bands today bring a genset with them to power lights and equipment.Much safer than trying to tap into the buildings system.If the group doesn't have a generator-it is easy and cheap to rent one for the show-and saves potential grief.

Post# 910448 , Reply# 24   12/10/2016 at 08:09 (557 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Those hippo clips look like something someone nearby me on another street in my neighborhood must have--not just to over-decorate his Christmas lights (everybody does THAT sort of competition!) but actually his HALLOWEEN display...


I can imagine someone going to that house maybe one day, or a couple or more days after, wanting to see all that turned on--and the stuff blowing every fuse, if not on the block--surely "powerless" that house... --The owner would probably not wisely give in; and supposedly can do all that safely and constructively, year-after-year...


I've gotten the lecture about an extension cord going from one room to a next (and I think the irony of it being OK buried under a rug--or did I get a hollerin' about it being there?!)... I had a heater plugged into a light-duty extension cord just to see the plug gradually attempt to break away from the rest on the cord, (yes from the type of use, load & heat) then wisely stuck that cord for it right into the wall! (I was such fun, flinging boogers into it--and saw an ANT go into a frenzy getting it to hang around one of the vertical heating elements as I'd turned it on...) Somehow at work I wanted to use a fan and a co-worker got on me for plugging a heavy duty cord into some light duty one going to the workplace's outlet--to which I told her: "It's a small TABLE FAN, not a FREEZER!"...



-- Dave

Post# 910878 , Reply# 25   12/12/2016 at 23:53 (554 days old) by MixGuy (St. Martinville, Louisiana)        
Exploding House

There was a house today that exploded due to a gas leak. The neighbors smelled gas and called the utility company in the morning and the house exploded in the afternoon before the utility crew arrived! Why was this not handled more promptly by the utility company??? CNN turn this into a news story saying the neighbors should have called 911 !!! Are you kidding me!?!

Which is correct? Why I have my own thoughts I am curious about reading other opinions. Will post my thoughts after a few days have lapsed. Thanks!

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