Just happened a Short Circuit in the house, need some advices please

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Hi,

As the title says, today happened a short circuit in the house, to be more specific the short circuit was in a extension cord, such extension cords was built of 2 extension cords, and the joint was made with some black tape, my guess is that the black tape worn out over time due to the heat, till some minutes ago worn so much that the copper wires touched each other and the short happened.

Let me show you a schematic trying to display what it looks like:
short.png

Yes I know that the Washing Machine pulls a lot of energy, and to be honest those extension cords are somewhat thin for that application, (but I'm not the one that did that installation), as this extension is on the outside and the house is made of concrete, fire risk is low, unless there is a blanket next to the cord and the blanket has contact with other stuff.

My worries are, what would happen If I was touching the Washing Machine during the short circuit? would I've get shocked? or all the voltage drops in the shorcuit point?

Hope your answers, please.
 

boostbuck

Joined Oct 5, 2017
509
....the joint was made with some black tape.... ...to be honest those extension cords are somewhat thin...
There is a comprehensive code for electrical installation - deviating from it carries risks. As your installation fails to meet code on a number of fronts, your chance of electrical accident are high.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Hey boostbuck and LowQCab thanks for your asnwers,

I'd really like to replace that stuff with a propper installation, but the problem is that I've not the authority, is my dad who do this installations and a he is who decides if a technician comes to the house, is like I bet you know some people that says If I do it is cheaper, but the problem here is that electrical installations are dangerous if not done properly, so do it by your own only 'cuz is cheaper is pretty bad.

He definitely has talent, but there are two problems, we in our house don't have all the tools that a specialist has and second he didn't took an eletricist course or something like that when he was young tho, so he doesn't know those safety codes.

I would like you to answer my question to tell him, looking at the point of the shortcuit in the schematic, that point is about 5 meters away from the Washing Machine, would I have get shocked If I was touching the Washing Machine?
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
34,392
I have get shocked If I was touching the Washing Machine?
No.
The washing machine chassis has no connection to the hot connection in the wire, so a short has no effect on the chassis voltage.

You should not use an extension cord for power, as the washer should be plugged directly in a wall socket but, if you must, use a heavy duty, 14 gauge one rated for outside use that has a heavy cover over the wires.
It should be a 3-wire cord connected directly to a 3-wire grounded outlet (no 2-wire to 3-wire cheater plugs).
Anything less is not safe.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
No.
The washing machine chassis has no connection to the hot connection in the wire, so a short has no effect on the chassis voltage.

You should not use an extension cord for power, as the washer should be plugged directly in a wall socket but, if you must, use a heavy duty, 14 gauge one rated for outside use that has a heavy cover over the wires.
It should be a 3-wire cord connected directly to a 3-wire grounded outlet (no 2-wire to 3-wire cheater plugs).
Anything less is not safe.
Hey crutschow thanks for your asnwer,

I'll seek for some heavy duty extensions, but well our house doesn't have a ground plane, this house was built by my grandparent and some of his friends/workers and I guess none of them were aware of safety protocols.
 

boostbuck

Joined Oct 5, 2017
509
..... the problem is that I've not the authority....
Well, I understand and sympathise with THAT! My father ran 240V wiring round his house using 2-core single-strand bell wire and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to wait until he died to rip it all out.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,790
In some countries, the electrical code is not as rigid as in other countries, or they are not enforced. In any case, your primary concern ought to be safety to personal health (to avoid being electrocuted) and prevention of house fires.

The recommendations would be to install proper grounded cables with proper gauge wire to handle the heavy current load. Connect the one appliance to the outlet and don’t tap any other loads on to it. What is distance between the appliance and the outlet? What is the current and voltage required to run the washer? How long is the power cable coming off the washer?

Power the LED lights from a separate outlet installed in a junction box. Do not tap on to an extension cord.

Buena suerte.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,195
I'm going to give a different opinion; I think it is possible to get shocked if it shorts. We can't assume any of the wiring was done properly. Also I don't know the wiring in your country, so I'm going to assume you've got one hot and one neutral, and probably no ground wire. If the neutral is in any way connected to the ground on the machine, and the neutral wire is broken at the short or has a high impedance (relatively) connection back to the utility service, it's possible for the outside of the machine to get some voltage from the hot wire, through the neutral wire. Or ground wire if there is a ground wire in the cord that also shorted. Once wires short and things get hot, insulation melts and all wires can get together and/or break. The bigger question is, why didn't the breaker immediately trip, or fuse immediately burn, when the short occurred?
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,886
do it by your own only 'cuz is cheaper is pretty bad.
I understand this sentiment. However, I don't fully agree with it. I've done a lot of electrical wiring in my house. In doing many upgrades I've discovered some HORRIBLE things that were done by a previous owner, another DIY (Do It Yourself[er]). I've seen hot and neutral crossed despite the obvious difference in wire color. I've seen 3 prong outlets replace 2 prong - and here's the big deal - the third pin, the ground, was connected to the white wire. The white wire is standard Neutral in the United States. Because of the crossed wires and the ground to white connection made my computer 'Case Hot'. That means the metal frame of my computer was at full voltage. When I plugged my printer into a different outlet and then attempted to plug the printer cable into the back of the computer I burned a hole in the back of the computer and got a nasty shock and burn.

Like I said, "Cheap" is not the main concern. "RIGHT" is what's important. Others have said, and I agree with it - replace the cord with a proper rated extension. 14 gauge extensions are used for short runs of 15 amp wiring. If you're running long distances then it's recommended you go up to 12 gauge. And never splice extension cables together. The junction is always the weak point. As you learned, problems can result. My father was one of those who understood AC to have no polarity. Today that's just not the case. Hot is Hot and Neutral is Neutral. Swapping them on a lamp is no big deal. But on an appliance it can be a serious issue.

Get the right cord. Don't wait for your father to give you permission. Love him. Protect him from his misconceptions about electricity.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,886
Also seen 18 gauge lamp cord in the wall. Different gauges nutted together; 10, 12 & 14 gauges as well as that lamp cord. Two 100W lamps in a fixture designed for two 60W lamps. Ceiling scorching and wire insulation so brittle it shed like shingles off of a roof in a high wind. One wire coming down the wall, one wire returning. Tapped into the down coming wire was spliced into black and into the up going wire was spliced white. This was to add a light fixture over the fire place.

Nuf bout dat.

Saving money is no reason for burning down the house or killing uncle fred.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
16,898
built of 2 extension cords, and the joint was made with some black tape, my guess is that the black tape worn out over time due to the heat, till some minutes ago worn so much that the copper wires touched each other and the short happened.
Get yourself some wire nuts, junction boxes, and GFCI outlets.

Wire nuts will hold the wires better. It sounds like some of the wiring is outside. If that's the case, use weather-proof junction boxes/connections for things that are exposed to the elements.

A GFCI outlet will protect you from shock, even if you don't have a ground wire. Just be sure to use the stickers that indicate no ground is present.

You can have an electrician drive grounding stakes in the ground and make a connection from neutral to ground at your panel.

I assume you have a breaker panel. A breaker didn't open when the short was created?
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
34,392
I'll seek for some heavy duty extensions, but well our house doesn't have a ground plane
dl324 beat me to it--

If the washer is not grounded, then there is a danger of electrocution if there is a fault inside the washer that shorts the hot lead to the washer chassis.

If you don't have ground available then, at a minimum, add the cheap insurance alternate (U$10-20) of replacing the standard wall socket with a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) socket and plug the washer into that.
Those don't need a ground connection (although they have a connection for one), as they trip when there is a slight difference between the hot and neutral currents, indicating there is a path to ground (such as through your body).
You may still get a small shock (I know, I've tripped one myself) if there's a fault to the appliance chassis, but it will disconnect the power before you die. :eek:

I would suggest the replacement with a GFCI for any sockets in your house with an appliance connected that has a 3-prong plug, indicating it could be a shock hazard.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Yes, exactly what we were suggesting.
Replace as many of your sockets with those, as you can.
Thank you man,

I found another a little bit cheaper about $14, will buy some and tell my dad about it because we also have a hamilton beach toaster with a metallic cage, and that device comes with only 2 pins, we don't have ground plane anyway, but glad to know there is a workaround for it GFCI outlets.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Just be sure to use the stickers that indicate no ground is present.

You can have an electrician drive grounding stakes in the ground and make a connection from neutral to ground at your panel.

I assume you have a breaker panel. A breaker didn't open when the short was created?
Hey dl324,

What is the porpuse for no ground is present sticker?

And we have some boxes to cut the light of all the house and air conditioners, but nope the main box didn't do a thing, I'm not sure if it has the ability to open by itself.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
16,898
What is the porpuse for no ground is present sticker?
That's so no one will assume that the outlet has earth ground
And we have some boxes to cut the light of all the house and air conditioners, but nope the main box didn't do a thing, I'm not sure if it has the ability to open by itself.
Circuit breakers in a main panel prevent things like fires from circuit overloads. If you can short line and neutral and not trip a breaker, that's another safety issue.

I don't know where you live, but in my region, residential 120VAC circuits are wired for 15 or 20A (depending on the wire gauge used for the circuit). Circuit breakers prevent you from causing wiring to overheat and cause fires or temperature cycle connections on the circuit and cause them to become loose. Resistive connections will create more heating.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,195
Also seen 18 gauge lamp cord in the wall. Different gauges nutted together; 10, 12 & 14 gauges as well as that lamp cord. Two 100W lamps in a fixture designed for two 60W lamps. Ceiling scorching and wire insulation so brittle it shed like shingles off of a roof in a high wind. One wire coming down the wall, one wire returning. Tapped into the down coming wire was spliced into black and into the up going wire was spliced white. This was to add a light fixture over the fire place.

Nuf bout dat.

Saving money is no reason for burning down the house or killing uncle fred.
Not to take too much of a tangent, but a good lesson in over heating a wire, by overloading or strait heat. We bought a house, I removed a ceiling light fixture to change it. The previous owner had a bulb in there that was significantly over the rating for the fixture, the wires were all cooked to the point the insulation was brittle. As I pulled the fixture down, 100% of the insulation for several inches of wire just fell right off, leaving a lot of bare wires. The romex in the attic was stretched tight, no new wire to pull. I taped up the wires to "replace" the insulation and called an actual electrician to come give it a real inspection. To my surprise, he said my tape job was good and left it. Yikes!
 
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