MakeShift Challenge: Hot Electrical Problem: Most Plausible Entry

Brian Lannon’s Most Plausible Winning Entry
by Lee D. Zlotoff
January 04, 2008

As with all electrical problems, it is best to shut off the source of the electricity and then cool the hot spot. In this situation, the order of events should follow as:

1. Unplug all appliances from the problem plug.
2. Find the nearest alternate electrical outlet and plug in the extension cord and chainsaw to reach the problem plug.
3. Cut away the wood exterior surrounding the plug only as deep as the material and not deep enough to damage the structural members.
4. Fill some of the pots and pans with water and set them near the problem outlet.
5. Shut the main breaker off at the electrical panel.
6. Test the four-plug problem outlet with the power drill.
7. Satisfied that there is no electrical current, remove the exterior cladding around the outlet that you previously cut with the chainsaw.
8. Use some of the water to cool the area around the outlet as well as the outlet itself. Keep some water in reserve.
9. Check for extension above and behind the outlet.
10. After you have observed for about 5 minutes for residual smoke, check with your hand for any hot spots. Cool with remaining water. The situation should be mitigated.

The reason I would not shut off the power immediately is that I assume the pump for the water supply is part of the household electrical circuit. Also, I needed the electric chainsaw to cut away the exterior material.

I should also mention that I am a professional firefighter and this kind of thing happens all of the time. I would like to think outside the box for this situation, but this is pretty much standard operating procedure.

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