My wife called me on my cell phone and told me that the power was out in 2 rooms and she smelled something like it was burning.
Such a situation warrants an immediate call to 9-1-1 or whatever emergency number is used to reach your local fire department. Hopefully, your FD is equipped with a thermal-imaging camera to locate possible hot spots that would not normally be visible.
Thinkgood; Absolutely correct! A call to the Fire Department comes first to "safe" this situation, followed by a call to a professional Electrician.
Our FD is very fortunate indeed to have a Thermal Imaging Camera. We have used it many times, most recently for a violent electrical failure such as has been described. Upon our arrival, we did not find any heat at the burned-out wall receptacle (homeowner had extinguished this fire already), but we DID find an excessive heating condition in the attic. It turned out to be a burned connection in a J-box (a 1900 box without a cover, incidentally) which ignited a small box stored nearby . Without the camera, we might have missed this when we checked the attic for fire extension.
I've been thinking about getting an Infrared Thermometer to help in finding weak/hot connections. Sometimes it's real obvious where a loose connection is, like when one outlet glows like a Jack-o-Lantern, but other times it's not. Does anyone here use them?
We do not have one but we often have a subcontractor check our work before we turn over the building.
They give us a report with pictures and reports.
It is great if there is a problem it shows big time.
As an example we had a thermal image of a panel 41 breakers all dark but 1 breaker very bright. It was a SP 20 with 19 amps on it, a lighting homerun was forgoten and someone had jumped 2 circuits together out side the panel.I am sure this would have been a service call later.
Bob Badger Construction & Maintenance Electrician Massachusetts
I've got a cheap ($100) infrared thermometer that has come in quite handy. I use it whenever I've got switchgear open, and it's found a few hot spots. Also, I've found a couple of hot motor bearings with it. I'm not sure of the accuracy of the temp readings, but the differential readings can still give you an idea of what's going on. And yes, good thermography equipment can run an easy $20K.
Thinkgood; Actually, I have not used it a lot myself. I am a chauffer/engineer with the FD. Mostly the "young guns" on the attack lines and the guys doing salvage and overhaul use this camera. It hits on any kind of heat source (fluorescent ballasts, live embers, hot wiring in walls, hot motors or transformers, hot breakers or fuses, human body heat, etc). Our Sheriff's Dept. even used it one time to locate an escapee hiding in dense underbrush! I believe this thing produces a black and white image, with a heat source appearing as a brilliant white "glow" on the screen. It's made by Bullard, and the price of this thing was astronomical...about $9K with a 12 volt charger .I think someone got to us on this deal, because I know from reading here at ECN that some members have models that are FAR less expensive.
[This message has been edited by mamills (edited 01-16-2003).]