Possible house fire averted - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 1:21 pm Thread Starter
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Possible house fire averted

Last night my son Matthew went into the kitchen for a drink. He turned on the the dimmer switch, and a few minutes later he smelled something burning.

He called me to investigate and we found the dimmer switch smoking. I shut the switch off and then took the wall plate off and unscrewed the dimmer switch from the wall. Tested it again and I could hear clicking noise and a spark or two plus the burning smell and smoke. Turned it off, disconnected the wires from the switch to the wall and capped all the wall wires.

Upon further inspection, the wire had rubbed against the back cover of the switch and bare wire was touching the housing and burning. The switch has 4 wires. One black, one green and two runner wires in red. It was one of the red wires.

After looking at the design of the housing I am surprised that there was nothing to hold the wires in place as they exited the switch back cover (housing).

It's a Leviton product. Trimatron catalog #6683.

Boy got lots of kudos for being alert.

Glad this did not happen while we were gone Thursday through Sunday afternoon.



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post #2 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 2:33 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Man.. that's a good son!

And a "wonderful co-incidence".... Glad you were not burnt out.
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post #3 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 2:50 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Leviton is a good product. But I've had 2 go bad in my home. The dimmer buttons were getting hot. I like their functionality, but I'm cautious about them now. I'm glad all is well.
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post #4 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 2:58 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Possible house fire averted

I called corporate about 10 minutes ago. They wanted the product for engineering to see/determine what went wrong.

They will also upgrade me with a newer switch.



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post #5 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 3:43 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

I'm gald he caught it and nothing bad happened. You're raising some sharp kids, Raffy!

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post #6 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 3:52 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Wow Raffy, good thing he noticed that. Great kid I think you owe him ice cream & cake...at least

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post #7 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 4:17 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaffyK
They will also upgrade me with a newer switch.
How old was the switch? Apparently the 6683 is discontinued, replaced by the 6683IW.

More kudos to your son - sure feels good when they pay attention and are responsible! .

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post #8 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 4:44 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Switch is at most 3 years old. Insulation was melted right where the wire exits the switch housing. So either it was moving and finally made contact with the housing or there are other internal issues. The housing is riveted so I did not want to open it in case the company wanted it (which they did).



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post #9 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 4:47 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

You may want to consider checking your total bulb wattage compared to the rating on the switch. It's very easy with multiple lamp fixtures to overload the switch which causes overheating and eventual failure. It seems odd that the wire would rub through the insulation unless it is a push type switch and it was perhaps pinched between the box wall and the rear of the switch housing. It's good to have a happy ending though. Good job by the kid.


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post #10 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 5:00 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Push type on/off and rotary dimmer.

It's rated for 600 watts. Controls 6 lights at 60 watts each.



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post #11 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 6:46 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaffyK
Push type on/off and rotary dimmer.

It's rated for 600 watts. Controls 6 lights at 60 watts each.
That is too close to the rating for my taste! Not the cause of the problem, as it is rated for that load.

I never like to run anything in a circuit AT rated load, especially lighting!. If someone put in a larger bulb to get brighter light in an area you would be over rating!

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post #12 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 8:38 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

He's only at 360 watts...

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post #13 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 9:05 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Quote:
Originally Posted by scottydawg
He's only at 360 watts...
OOOPS! And I am an engineer. Have no clue what I was thinking at the time I read it.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying.

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post #14 of 18 Old Aug 10th, 2009, 9:40 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

That's a responsible child. Many would have just gone back to bed. Kudo's Matthew!

Maybe it's showing him his first red car that did it...

Hal
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post #15 of 18 Old Aug 11th, 2009, 1:30 am
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Re: Possible house fire averted

Bummer!
The red wires are the 3-way travelers and are hot (powered) when switch is on.
Was it in an old existing metal box and switch was installed during remodel?
I hate trying to "cram" large body switches or GFI outlets into the "old" style metal boxes.
Recommend removing existing metal box and install extra deep plastic cut-in box.
I would check all dimmers and GFI's in the house that were installed as this may just be the first to have an issue (especially if old metal boxes were reused).
Notify your contractor and have him and his electrician check entire house (while you look over their shoulder).

Kudo's to Matthew for being observant and notifying you.

I hate the smell of burning electrical insulation (don't ask, been there, done that!)

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Last edited by dougholck; Aug 11th, 2009 at 1:35 am.
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post #16 of 18 Old Aug 11th, 2009, 1:52 am Thread Starter
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Re: Possible house fire averted

New box as part of new construction.

I called Leviton and they want to see the unit. they will be replacing it with a newer one which is an upgrade.

As usual in my hast, I forgot to take notes as to how the red wires were connected. I know green is ground and black is + supply . I can reconnect these. Does it matter how I connect the red wires from the switch?



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post #17 of 18 Old Aug 11th, 2009, 10:12 am
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Smile Re: Possible house fire averted

Nope, it does not matter, the travelers are just that, one or the other will be hot (Powered) depending on the position of the two or more switches.

Good kid there Raffy, must be the parenting...grin.
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post #18 of 18 Old Aug 11th, 2009, 12:19 pm
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Re: Possible house fire averted

He is a VERY bright kid like all Raffy and Patty's kids. I am always impressed with their manners and shining personalities. Glad it turned out this way. A replacement switch not a replacement house.

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