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#113870 - 11/01/02 11:17 PM Improper use of extension cords  
Admin  Offline

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,447
[Linked Image]
This picture was taken during a visit to Brooklyn, NYC in 2001. The house was an early 1900s appartment building. Quite a scary task to plug a 1200W hairdryer into that mess! However, the bathroom didn't have a receptacle at all. The setup was fed by the only 2 NEMA 5-15 receptacles in that 9'x9' room.

Greetings from Vienna, Austria

Ragnar aka Texas_Ranger

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#113871 - 11/02/02 12:40 AM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
rhagfo  Offline
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 43
Portland, OR. USA
The beige device on the floor with the power strip plugged in to it, appears to be one of those duplex to 6 outlet devices. Most likely couldn't get into the wall outlet due to the ground conductor. This is how house fires get started. Sure would be interesting to see the post & Tube wiring in the wall, could be a little thread bare by now.

#113872 - 11/02/02 07:49 AM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
Texas_Ranger  Offline
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,399
Vienna, Austria
It was a duplex-to-6 adaptor, and he plugged it in that way because the duplex was behind the shelf in the background. I guess it was a grounded one though, because all the others in that appartment were. The panel was a real small one, less than 10 circuits I'd guess, mounted high up on a hallway wall. (beyond my eye level, and I'm 6'4")
Being this New York I'd guess BX rather than K&T.
Maybe there was some more of that kind hidden behind the shelf, because there was some more stuff (refrigerator,...) not visible in the picture.
Luckily except for my hairdryer there were no heavy loads connected to that. Stereo, TV, Super Nintendo, Sega, video, cable tuner, cell phone charger,...
The refrigerator in the kitchen was hooked up to a 9' 3w 16 awg zip cord extension cord running all over the kitchen. Guess when they turn on all their gadgets (including an electric blow-heater in the master bedroom) at once it goes dark.

#113873 - 11/02/02 04:49 PM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
pauluk  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
All too familiar. I've seen places where somebody has attached half a dozen or more strip outlets to various walls and clipped the cords around the walls and baseboards, each one daisy-chained from the last.

#113874 - 11/05/02 05:15 PM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
SvenNYC  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
New York City

And even if the outlets in that room are the two-hole ungrounded ones, you can still plug in a three-pin plug. We've got these little grey (or sometimes orange) rubber devices called 'cheater plugs.'

You insert your grounded plug into the receptcle end and plug the male end into the wall outlet.

In order to ensure a correct ground, you're supposed to fasten the little copper tab on the cheater plug body with the wall plate screw. However most people don't bother with that extra step and the grounding tab method only works if the outlet box itself is grounded...

Those plugs are safe if you're only using them for temporary things (like using an electric drill in a house with no three-hole outlets), but most people plug them in and leave them in.

Supposedly, these "grounding plug adapters" are illegal to sell and use in Canada. However I wandered into a variety store on St. Catherine's Street in Montreal and saw them for sale by the sales counter (package of two for $1).

[Linked Image]


That picture is SO New York!!! [Linked Image] This is typical of what people are forced to do here out of necessity.

[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 11-05-2002).]

#113875 - 11/06/02 10:05 AM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
Texas_Ranger  Offline
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,399
Vienna, Austria
Know these adaptors.
Still think he found it easier just to kill the ground prong.
BTW: are all the ground prongs on NEMA 5-15 plugs hollow or are there also solid types?
We were on a class trip back then, and a classmate told me at his place all the receptacles missed the covers (and later some curtain fell down on his head with all the hardware).
This is West End Avenue, Brooklyn, if you know that area. Just some minutes to walk from coney island beach, close to the D train.

#113876 - 11/06/02 01:15 PM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
SvenNYC  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
New York City
Breaking the grounding pin is also very common. Often these things are so flimsy they break off all by themselves when you pull the plug out of the socket (happens on power strips at work a few times when things get banged around).

It eventually compromises the mechanical integrity of the remaining contacts. (I don't understand your friend - those adapters are US$1 for a two-pack at the dollar stores in the city. Cheapskate? [Linked Image] ).

Most of the molded-on plugs I've seen have hollow grounding pins (cheaper to make?).

Aftermarket replacement grounding caps have pins made out of thick copper or brass bent in a sort of inverted U shape.

These are much more resistant to breakage and bending than what is essentially a hollow little copper or tin tube held in place by a blob of rubber or plastic (the plug top itself.

Has anyone seen a Nema 5-15 plug with a solid round earth pin?

#113877 - 11/06/02 02:48 PM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
Texas_Ranger  Offline
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,399
Vienna, Austria
No idea. I couldn't pull any of the plugs to look at it closely 'cause he had lotsa important stuff plugged into that mess (cell phone charger, battery charger, clock,...), he struggled enough to get a spare socket for my hairdryer. Only obviuos thing is that no adaptor was used.
The appartment was a nightmare. Closet doors falling out of their hinges (heavy old wood dors), kitchen ceiling sagging at least 6", window wouldn't close any more (5" gap always remained), bathroom door wouldn't lock any more, radiators being only in the kitchen and master bedroom (my room was always cold, outside temp just slightly above freezing point, wind and heavy rain, one day temp went up to 55 F, we cheered and tanned *grin*), a fan rotating BELOW three naked compact flourecents, light switches that were so worn out they worked at the slightest touch, GOLDEN wall plates (or at least it was supposed to be, I've never seen anything that ugly before) and everything was TINY. Common belief in Europe is, that in America everything is BIG. However, this is kinda cliché, I think. America isn't a TV show, and New York isn't Texas or Arizona.

#113878 - 11/07/02 08:24 PM Re: Improper use of extension cords  
John Steinke  Offline
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 518
Reno,Nv., USA
Believe it or not, some of this mess is caused by the NEC and NRTL.
Ever wonder why those power strips are so hard to mount securely (so everything can be neat and orderly)? Because, in the late '70's, when it was first decided to "list" such devices, it was also decided that ease of mounting implied permanent use, and the listing was contingent on their being "temporary." Quality units, on the market at the time, that could be securely mounted had to be changed in order to pass the standard.
Oddly enough, progress since then will help reduce the mis-use of those 2-to-3 prong adapters. Not only are most appliances now using two-prong cords, but those electronic devices that require a good ground won't work properly without one- no matter what the receptacle looks like!
One OSHA rule that I violate is that I use a two-wire extension cord. Can anyone explain how it is better for me to plug a double-insulated two-prong tool into a three-wire cord? And, what am I supposed to do when the job site has knob & tube, two-wire (no ground) circuits?

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