Power Outlet Expander Failure

Multi-Scorched Multi-Outlet Box
Multi-Scorched Multi-Outlet Box

This story begins years ago, as mentioned there. I’d retrieved the offending outlet expander / extension cord from my mother’s apartment and tossed it in my big box of Extension Cords.

I recently plugged it in and was rewarded with a flash-bang inside the box. Taking it apart reveals two more blackened outlet compartments (in the lower right), but no more missing contact blades.

It turns out that the black (hot) wire got caught between a stiffening rib on the back plate and the edge of the box supporting the brass plate connecting the white (neutral) wire to the contacts. Here’s reconstructed view after I cut off the extension cord.

Crushed wire
Crushed wire

Flipping the wire over shows the spot where the copper conductor eventually poked through the insulation.

Exposed conductor
Exposed conductor

It touched the sharp corner of the brass strip just to the left of the divider in this view. The notch in the divider channeled the jet of burning debris across the far wall of the right-hand compartment. The left-hand compartment is completely smudged.

Short-circuit point and debris jets
Short-circuit point and debris jets

Looks like I get credit for this one… but even seeing how I did it, I’m not sure there’s any way to know none of the wires got crushed while reassembling the box.

It’s safely in the trash and the cord is in my big box of Random Power Cords.

Memo to Self: Make sure the box fits together smoothly?

2 thoughts on “Power Outlet Expander Failure

  1. … but on the bright side, at least the box was apparently mounted together using screws that could be removed by a mere mortal. Not the ‘once-in-never-out’ headless screws they use exclusively nowadays… (I’m not talking about Torx/safety Torx – love those)

    I can tell the age of an extension cord by looking at the screws with which they are tightened: the older ones have flathead screws or Phillips heads. Back in the days, when there was a problem with an extension cord, mere mortals (i.e. ordinary people with a screwdriver, half a brain and some common sense) could open it up, fix the problem, close it up and happily enjoy a few more decades of reliable service from the extension cord.

    What has become of mankind that we are no longer trusted/allowed to do even the simplest repair jobs, I wonder….

    (I feel a rant coming up on the topic of regulation and litigation, but I think I´ll manage to suppress it)

    1. ‘once-in-never-out’ headless screws

      And adhesives and internal latches and …

      I know why they do it that way, but that doesn’t mean I agree.

      I´ll manage to suppress it

      Best way to work through your frustration: go tear something apart and fix it.

      Don’t take NO for an answer!

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