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Would you say that a lamp flickering all the time and outlets

sparking and shocking me and...
Would you say that a lamp flickering all the time and outlets sparking and shocking me and baseboard heaters popping really loud is all problems that can lead to fires?
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Answered in 8 minutes by:
5/12/2013
Rich
Rich, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1,801
Experience: Over 35 years residential, commercial, industrial wiring, install, troubleshoot, service, maintain
Verified

Rich : Hello. Rich here this morning. Yes. I would say that all those could lead to a fire.
Rich : Those problems may indicate loose wires. And sparking can definitly cause a fire
JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

I will explain what I mean. A year and a half ago I had these problems and had a apartment fire because of it. The outlets were either to loose or to tight.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

What about baseboard heaters with loud popping sounds?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

Would you say a baseboard heater arcing could set a major fire?

Rich : Loud poping could be arcing. Or could be the heater expanding as it heats up. That would have to be looked at to determine which.
JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

What would be the reason for the lamps flickering and the popping?

Rich : Lamps flickering can be a loose wire in the circuit. Bad breaker. Bad switch. Usually it is a wire
JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

The electrician that came out said the fire was started by the breaker going out and the heater arcing and setting on fire. The fire department was thinking that my clothes basket (a foot and a half away) was the cause of the fire when it wasn't. There is no way a basket of clothes can start a fire. That fire caused a lot of damage to the apartment. Had to be totally regutted and renovated.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

A freyed wire?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

Are u there?

Rich : Yes.
JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

Would you say baseboard heaters don't emit enough heat unless its arcing to set a clothes basket on fire?

Rich :

sorry just swiching to my computer for better chat

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

Ok

Rich :

if there were a piece of clothing laying on the heater it could cause a fire ..

Rich :

the ele4ctric heaters do get hot enough for that to happen

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

none of the clothes in the basket were on the heater. what about if it was a foot and a half away

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

that is what I thought when the fire department thought my basket caused the fire. it was a foot and a half away.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

im just trying to understand the situation better since I lost everything in the fire

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

what would it mean could of happened if the outlet had black stuff above where you plug things in

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

when I saw that on a outlet I thought there could of been a small fire (before my big fire)

Rich :

then no that would not be likely to start a fire .. I have seen florescent light ballasts shoot fire , arcing abo0ut 6 inches out of the fixture when they sot a heater arcing

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ok. that is what I thought. what was happening with the shocking of the outlet when I was trying to plug things in?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

so a heater arcing would cause a blowout fire?

Rich :

black marks on the outside of an outlet could be from the cord being pulled out and an arc happening then ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

interesting. cause that happened before the major fire. when I told my landlord about it he was like outlets get old and wore out but he didn't do anything about it. the landlord said the heater popping sounds were normal. the fire chief said loud popping wasn't normal. wouldn't you agree

Rich :

any arcing could cause a fire .. it is usually a loose wire ,, trying to function thru an air gap .. and it sparks mover .. that is a fire hazzard

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ahh

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

its all starting to make sense now

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

after all these years

Rich :

there is a different sound to a heater expanding and popping ... and a wire arcing .. hard to explain

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

Ok.Was the breaker that went out, was that what started the fire or the heater first?

Rich :

blackened outlets on the area where you plug stuff in are usually from the use of a cord and unplugging under power so the acr is outside ..

Rich :

a loose wire inside the outlet would acr inside and probably show black marks around the outside of the outlet body

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ok that makes sense

Rich :

when a breaker fails , we hope it will fail off .. sometimes they do not ..,

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

what happens when it don't fall off

Rich :

if it fails on and does not trip ,, that means that the current can not be stopped and it may heat any loose connection enough to start a fire

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ahh ok.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

its making sense

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

why is it that when we saw the heater that arced, it was only torched on one side?

Rich :

the tripping of the breaker is to protect the wires insulation .. too much power means that the insulation can gfail and arc

Rich :

what do you mean one side .. you mean one end of the heater

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes one side of the heater was black but the other was not

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

I think it might of been where the fire started

Rich :

the power connection is at one end the other end is usually crimped connection for the return wires to the power end

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i saw the heater liked that laid on the torched bed.

Rich :

this chat has been fast . please do not let me skip any of your concerns

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ok so what do you think caused that one side to be black? the fire?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

it was like half black

Rich :

there is not very much inside the heater body that would burn .. if it was just blackened on the end .. and not totally burned then it could have started something close to it on fire ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ok i didn't think about that. so why do you think the clothes basket a foot and a half from the heater started a fire? i just don't understand that. there was nothing flammable on the clothes

Rich :

the wall should have been destroyed for the fire to have started inside the heater

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

the whole room was torched

Rich :

well sounds like they were looking for something flamable to be close enough to ba caught on fire ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

it started in my daughters room. so you are saying the fire started in the wall

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes that does sound like it but the bed and the basket was a foot and half away. plenty of distance from the heater

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

wouldn't you say

Rich :

you can see burn pattern in a torched room .. where it started .,. how it spread ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i took pictures but not sure how to look at the burn patterns

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

it expanded threw the whole apartment and blew out the living room window

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

what could of caused the fire to blow out like that? do you know?

Rich :

NO .. saying If it was the heater alone ,..,. nothing laying on the heater .. then it would have had to burn its way out thru the wall to burn the whole room

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

interesting

Rich :

there is nothing else burnable at the heater ,, but the wall

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

my daughters room was the blackest. my room door was shut and just got a little damage on the top of the door. little black soot

Rich :

if you exclude the clothes

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh ok that makes sense. now is it possible during the fire if blankets or clothes fell on the heater that that could accelerate the fire?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

how do i tell the burn pattern

Rich :

yes you say it was that far away .. but if something happened .. like as she was in a hurry and pulled something out of the basket and another piece kinda got closer to the heater ???

Rich :

diffuculkt to tell you what to look for // the most burned is usually where it started

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

my kids were in school and i was gone when the fire happened but no clothes from the basket or blankets from the bed were on the heater before i left

Rich :

and then grows out from that .,.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh ok i will have to look at my pictures.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

what caused the fire to blast thru the rest of the apartment and blow out the front window?

Rich :

then if the window blew out the fire would have swept in that direction .. and so would the burning

Rich :

the heat of the fire could break a mwindow

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes it went through the whole apartment but it missed my room sine the door was shut

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

why wouldn't it of gotten my room even thought the door was shut?

Rich :

most doors have a 1 to 2 hour fire rating .. and it found an easier way to go .. to the oxygen sourse

Rich :

if it had nopt blown the window it would have smouldered enough to burn thru the door .. maybe

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh ok that makes sense. so it sounds like this whole fire was electrical to you right?

Rich :

yes sounds like the ignition source could have been electrical ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

that is what i speculated when the electrician said the fire was started by the arcing but the fire department says different. do electricians write reports when they come out to fires and do work?

Rich :

but questional what it ignited ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

either the basket or the bed that was closest to the heater (foot and a half)

Rich :

they would have reported to whoever hired them to do the analyses

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

but i don't think a basket of clothes or bed could expand a fire like that

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

do you think i could get that report? from the landlord?

Rich :

I hear what you are saying .. but I cannot confirm that without seeing it .. you understand that right

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes i understand that. but you confirmed a lot of what i thought

Rich :

I do not know who would have hired the electrician .. maybe the insurance company ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

are the victims of the fire allowed to get the report

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i will have to do some digging to see who i can get the report from

Rich :

sems lkike they did not feel that the heater arced out thru the wall ..

Rich :

and felt that another something caught fire fron the overheated wires in the heater

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yea the fire department don't but i know what the electrician told me and my boyfriend at the time (my witness that was with me)

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

hmm not sure the fire report don't say

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i don't know if they would of likely done a revised report after the electrician came out?

Rich :

not likely they would have changed any report ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh ok.

Rich :

that kinda spoils ones integrity

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes, so i assume i couldn't get access to the electricians report?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

if i found out who had it?

Rich :

saying " oh ya now we agree with this other report " that would not go over very well

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

so i take it that is a no. bummer. but at least i know what me and sam were told by the electrician

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

so it would be a conflict of interest? or confidential info?

Rich :

the insurance is who really cares where and how it started .. they are the ones who are going to pay off so it matters to them .. not the fire dept or the landlord

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

so i probably couldn't get it from the insurance company?

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yea the insurance company is trying to sue me for a lot of money on this and say im negligent. their attorney is hounding me.

Rich :

so they determione from the reports if it was an electrical fault .. or yiou were negligent in your housekeeping

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

this is the same insurance company that said they wouldn't cover the fire

Rich :

well they do not want to pay ,....so the attack // find a public defender ??

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i don't feel i was negligent from my house keeping

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

can public defenders represent me for a large claim money case?

Rich :

I cannot see the effects of the fire ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

this isn't criminal which is good. i wouldn't set my place on fire

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i know

Rich :

I think they could be consulted for something lkike this ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh ok i didn't think about this.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

that is a good suggestion

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

this is just a messed up situation and i have psychological effects from this. nightmares and flashbacks and anxiety every time i see something burning or see smoke

Rich : The site just threw me out. Hive me a minute to catch up
JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ok

Rich :

OK .. it reloaded .. this is a tough situation

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

ok

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

what would you suggest

Rich :

if you do not miond ... do you have the kind of money the insurance co .. is looking bto sue you for ??

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

or what do you think

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

no i dont

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i am limited income

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

they are trying to sue me for over 27000

Rich :

then i kinda do not see their point .. they are obviouisly looking for a scae on this one ..

Rich :

you mkay have to find a lawyer tom get tyhem to go away

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

you are saying they are trying to scare me? that is possible

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

15000 the landlord paid toward the end of the renovation and the ins company still didn't pay

Rich :

does not seem likely that thyey will completelky back off and reverse their position and give you money for your loss

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

they weren't gonna pay because they thought the damage was minimal. there was no way it was minimal and now they are trying to sue me for this much

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes they probably wont

Rich :

I would look for public defender for advice .. or a lawyer

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i see a lot of complaints online about this company no paying people

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i have tried a lawyer. they all want 5000 retainer. would take me awhile to save that up

Rich :

the ins co has taken this opinion .. so the best you can hope for is for them to go aweay .. that ids my opinion ,... njot a legal one for sure

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yes i know. the lawyer has been harassing me to wanting me to send in my proof of my innocence on this neglengence claim. i wont do that and compromise my defense

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i wonder why they waited a year and a half to do this

Rich :

there are lawyers on this site .. you might brestate your question and submit it with the intent of looking at the legal side of your situation

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yea i will have to try that

Rich :

seems to me that the proof would be in the electricains mreport .. if anywhere

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yea that seems to be the case

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i never got his name

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i had just been thru a fire at the time and just wanted to know the cause of the fire

Rich :

I would look at the fire dept also ..

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i don't have his name or number

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i will have to try to do that

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

maybe it says in that

Rich :

a lawyer might be able to get those reports .. I do not kn ow

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i would hope so. most personal injury lawyers wont touch me and help because i didn't have physical damage just psychological

Rich :

sdince they atre sueing you based on those reports .. they might have to disclose them .. ask a lawyer .. I am just talking logical thought here /.

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i have to try the push the mediation deadline the judge order for for the end of august

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

oh i will have to do that

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i will write him. i wont let the lawyer have my number. he has been harassing me enough by letters

Rich :

I think you need a lawyer before you do anything else //

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

yea i do but the problem is the retainer. i don't know if i can get legal assistance

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

i live in Waukesha wi and the case is in eau Claire wi (3 and a half hours away)

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

so i am being forced to travel extra now because of this situation

Rich :

I do not think I can help you any more than I have here

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

well you have helped and i appreciate it

JACUSTOMER-t9rknd2v- :

you have been extremely helpfull

Rich :

Thank you

Rich :

Please take a minute to rate my service .. Thanks

Customer:

No problem. thanks for your help

Rich
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Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

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