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I did something with electrical

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 12:32 pm
by Dia
So, I replaced a thing. Then I got curious why the last (seemingly identical) thing wasn't working and needed to be replaced in the first place. So naturally, I broke it open. Is this just accumulated dust? That's not even all of it, it was packed in there!

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 3:25 pm
by mikeyitis
Is it insulation? Was the switch on an insulated wall?

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 7:29 pm
by emtnut
Not often you hear me say this on an electrical post ... but ... WTF ???? :o :shock: :shock: :?

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 8:19 pm
by Aaron
emtnut wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 7:29 pm
Not often you hear me say this on an electrical post ... but ... WTF ???? :o :shock: :shock: :?
Yeah that was precisely my reaction too: W......T..... F......! :lol:

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 8:56 pm
by A. Spruce
I've never seen anything like it either, but then I don't usually break open receptacles either.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am
by Shannon
Was this a plug from an exterior wall in a room behind a bed or something? If so do you think there was so much draft leakage to the exterior that it filtered lint through the receptacle ? i don't normally go around splitting these apart either so it could be normal but I don't know?

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am
by Shannon
Dia are you making stuff up to stump us here?

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 8:13 am
by Aaron
Shannon wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am
Dia are you making stuff up to stump us here?
She won't reply, at least for a while... she dropped a bomb and ran again.

I have to admit I'm stumped. The only think I can think of is that it's a spider web or something. But that's an awful lot of "material" for a spider web.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 8:17 am
by Aaron
She said it was packed in there, so it's not a spider web. Maybe one of her kids stuffed toilet paper or cotton in there, hopefully with a non-metallic poking device.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 9:39 am
by emtnut
The way it comes apart (with those tabs) , maybe the last owner tried to insulate for a draft ???

Since the house hasn't burned down, I'd guess it's non-conductive :shock:

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 10:47 am
by A. Spruce
Shannon wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am
Was this a plug from an exterior wall in a room behind a bed or something? If so do you think there was so much draft leakage to the exterior that it filtered lint through the receptacle ?
I would think that if this were the case, the entire junction box would have been filled with the stuff.
emtnut wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:39 am
The way it comes apart (with those tabs) , maybe the last owner tried to insulate for a draft ???

Since the house hasn't burned down, I'd guess it's non-conductive :shock:
A client called me to go fix a bunch of stuff in a rental of his, ALL of the kitchen outlets had paper towel stuffed around them to try and stem the tide of ants all over the place. God forbid they wipe the inch thick layer of Kool Aid and food debris off the counter. :roll: So, yeah, it could have been done by a previous tenant of the property.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 4:23 pm
by Aaron
emtnut wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:39 am
The way it comes apart (with those tabs) , maybe the last owner tried to insulate for a draft ???

Since the house hasn't burned down, I'd guess it's non-conductive :shock:
You ever seen a receptacle that comes apart like that? I've seen like GFCIs that have snapping tabs but they're still all glued together. I think those tab things are just temporary fasteners that are part of the assembly process... to hold the pieces together as the glue cures.

One should NOT be able to easily take apart a receptacle.

I'm guessing she cut it open with a Dremel or razor knife or something.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 8:24 pm
by Shannon
Aaron wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 4:23 pm

You ever seen a receptacle that comes apart like that? I've seen like GFCIs that have snapping tabs but they're still all glued together. I think those tab things are just temporary fasteners that are part of the assembly process... to hold the pieces together as the glue cures.

One should NOT be able to easily take apart a receptacle.

I'm guessing she cut it open with a Dremel or razor knife or something.
Remember this is Dia we are talking about! WHHHOOO knows what she may have done or why?? :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 8:25 pm
by Shannon
A. Spruce wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:47 am
Shannon wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am
Was this a plug from an exterior wall in a room behind a bed or something? If so do you think there was so much draft leakage to the exterior that it filtered lint through the receptacle ?
I would think that if this were the case, the entire junction box would have been filled with the stuff.


Ya you have a point there

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Tue May 14, 2019 7:21 am
by Aaron
Shannon wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:24 pm
Remember this is Dia we are talking about! WHHHOOO knows what she may have done or why?? :lol: :lol: :lol:
Yes, there is that notion too. :lol:

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Tue May 14, 2019 10:29 am
by emtnut
Aaron wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 4:23 pm

You ever seen a receptacle that comes apart like that?
Nope !

It seems to have a larger casing than a normal receptacle as well.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Tue May 14, 2019 3:05 pm
by Aaron
Yeah it does. I was thinking it's a GFCI or perhaps one of those decorator-style receptacles that fit in the same rectangle slot as a GFCI.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 5:55 pm
by Dia
Shannon wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am
Dia are you making stuff up to stump us here?
Haha, no sir! Hadn't even considered that possibility before... :twisted:

It was on an insulated, internal wall. It was a double rocker switch from the bathroom, wired in next to a GFCI.

There was the same stuff in the box, but way less packed.

Definitely easy to crack open, no tools beyond screwdriver.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 8:09 pm
by Aaron
That is very weird. Insulated internal wall? There's no reason to insulate an internal wall except for acoutics/sound.

Very odd. I would vacuum all that crap from the switch box if you haven't already.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 10:25 pm
by Dia
I definitely vacuumed it all, but to be honest, I was hoping you guys were infallible in your vast knowledge of everything (a high calling, to be sure). Now I'm concerned... What if this is everywhere?

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 10:54 pm
by Aaron
Dia wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:25 pm
I definitely vacuumed it all, but to be honest, I was hoping you guys were infallible in your vast knowledge of everything (a high calling, to be sure). Now I'm concerned... What if this is everywhere?
As much as I can tell it's cellulose-type insulation that was blown in. Why in your interior walls is a mystery. You could remove the cover plates of all your switches and receptacles and inspect to see if there's any of it in the junction boxes. If not, you probably don't have to worry about it being in the devices, and you can put the cover plate back on.

I actually find there's a lot of mud and plaster dust from initial construction in a lot of junction boxes that I like to vacuum out.

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 11:03 pm
by A. Spruce
Dia wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:25 pm
I definitely vacuumed it all, but to be honest, I was hoping you guys were infallible in your vast knowledge of everything (a high calling, to be sure). Now I'm concerned... What if this is everywhere?
Well, the infallible answer is that your house is possessed! :shock: :? :| :mrgreen:

I've seen a little bit of insulation in the junction box before, usually due to the way blown insulation is installed in a wall, but I've not seen it inside of a receptacle before. The receptacle itself would have had to have a vacuum drawn on it to pull insulation internally like that, and that is just weird!

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Wed May 22, 2019 8:35 am
by Dia
Got my pseudo handyman (friend's dad) to look at the photos, and from what he's saying, his best guess is that they put this switch into a section of wall that acts as an air return? He also thinks there's a leak from the attic into the air or something, he lost me after that. Are air returns usually just a hollow section of wall with no duct work? How would a hole from the attic cause this? Is that why part of the wall is full of fluffy crap (which is why I assumed it was partially insulated)? Is this dangerous? You guys feel like my safety net sometimes. <3

Re: I did something with electrical

Posted: Wed May 22, 2019 9:51 pm
by Aaron
Yeah believe it or not, joist and stud bays can indeed be air returns, without ductwork. The idea is that it's just a channel for air to go back to the furnace. This air is usually sucked in by a louver cover in a void space. It need not be an air-tight ductwork because the return air can come from wherever it needs to, just so long as it's from inside the house.

That said, wires and cables can go through this space but you probably shouldn't have electrical boxes mounted in those particular bays.