Point well taken. I guess what I was getting at is, the receptacle, supplied by a 20 amp Square D breaker, failed as a result of current (and perhaps not necessarily excessive current at that) passing through the receptacle on its way to the air conditioner, as well as any other items downwind (if there were any). In my instance, the wires had appeared to be properly wrapped initially around the screws, and not connected via the "push 'n pray" method. Someone who is well versed in "electrical forensics" might have had a different view. A situation such as this makes a good case for solidly splicing wires together in the box, and bringing a pigtail out to the receptacle
We have all seen 15 amp-rated receptacles, in a wide range of quality, offered for sale. Some are of such questionable quality that their sale should be illegal. Others are of much higher quality and can be discerned by their look and feel (as well as price).
When you really get to the bottom line, the HO probably would have been much better off with a dedicated 20 amp circuit with a 20 amp receptacle, as you mentioned.
Thank you for your comments
[This message has been edited by mamills (edited 09-28-2005).]