Short Circuit AftermathThe Better Half had a little mishap yesterday when she went to the electrical outlet in the hallway to plug in her camera battery recharging unit. Upon her attempt to plug the little unit in, she was greeted by a shower of sparks, a whiff of ozone and a tripped circuit breaker. I was in the courtyard when I heard her yell for me. I came running to see what happened.

(Clickable) image: Outlet under repair. Note the black mark inside box.

Not knowing what the problem was, I went to the circuit breaker box and attempted to reset the tripped breaker with no load on the outlet. No dice, it wouldn’t reset.

The only recourse was to open the outlet in question with the breaker still off. Once open, I immediately saw the problem - the bare earth ground wire had been looped around the outlet such that it was in close proximity to the screws on the hot side. The wire had actually fused to one of the hot screws and burned it in half, apparently when TBH jostled the outlet plugging her charger in resulting in a dead short hot to ground.

I cut the ground wire away from the hot terminal and prepared the end to be reconnected to the ground terminal away from the hot side. After reassembly, the circuit breaker set correctly and the outlet (and the rest of the several shared outlets) functioned correctly once again.

TBH and I recall having interfaced with the electrical guy that worked on the house as it was being built. We both thought he was a flake at the time. It makes us wonder how many other little time bombs might be lurking in the other wiring around the house.