Black Soot Above Receptacles - Electrical - Contractor Talk

Black Soot Above Receptacles

 
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Old 09-07-2015, 06:57 PM   #1
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Black Soot Above Receptacles


Does anyone have any thoughts as to the cause?

There are a few receptacles like this: interior, partition walls as well as exterior. New home owner.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:01 PM   #2
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Dust/dirty air entering at the receptacle. Seal it with foam, a gasket.

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Old 09-07-2015, 07:09 PM   #3
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


I've seen plug in DC transformers do that, not exactly sure why.....guessing the combination of heat and dust attraction? Though I'm sure I'd open them up to check the wiring/receptacle to be sure.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:11 PM   #4
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


I thought about that.

But, if that was the case, wouldn't it be more generally indicated around the entire receptacle as opposed to mainly above?
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:15 PM   #5
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Also, electrical service was upgraded, but the home was built in 1925.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:32 PM   #6
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Four receptacles in living room. Two out of the four are like this.

The new HO hasn't used them. It's been that way since she purchased the house.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:44 PM   #7
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


I'm still going with my guess
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:51 PM   #8
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


I've seen this happen behind the nightlights plugged into the outlet.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:58 PM   #9
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Ive witnessed this in my own house before I Rewired . Mine did the same thing due to the circuit being overloaded . Its a miracle my house did not burn down . A simple check with an infrared temp gun will confirm . My situation was a result of using two space heaters on the same circuit . Whoever wired my home ran most all of the receptacles to one circuit.
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Old 09-07-2015, 08:23 PM   #10
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Kind of a different thought, but could it be coal dust being sucked out of the walls. I've seen alot of older homes, that had been heated with coal, have a ton of coal dust inside the walls.
Probably off the mark, but who knows.
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Old 09-07-2015, 08:50 PM   #11
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Just more info: the house has gas radiator heat and cold forced air. The ducts were added by the previous owner for the air conditioning.
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Old 09-07-2015, 10:21 PM   #12
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


I think the fact that it's on partition walls tends to rule out air leaks. Looks like a heat signature from wall warts or just heavy current draw, where heat creates an updraft and concomitant "contamination" of the wall surface.

If it's cleaned up and/or repainted, and nothing unusual plugged in there, I wouldn't expect it to recur.
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Old 09-07-2015, 10:37 PM   #13
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Did you pull the receptacles to check for any obvious wiring issues?
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Old 09-07-2015, 10:43 PM   #14
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


No.
I was originally there for windows and some water damage...kinda snowballed from there.

My plan is to clean the area and replace the receptacles with new, at which time I'll check in wires for signs of overload.

The back-drafting idea sounds plausible as does the previous owners using plug-in air fresheners.
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Old 09-07-2015, 11:14 PM   #15
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Night light or air freshener. Or, bad outlet.
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Old 09-08-2015, 07:43 AM   #16
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


This is due to excess heat at the receptacles. You could have a loose connection or it could have been caused by something that was plugged in. I have seen a defective vacuum cleaner do this. Customer was sure it was the receptacle but the vacuum was the culprit because the cord had a loose connection.

Wal wart is a possibility but if this is happening at 3 outlets it makes me think of a loose connection
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Old 09-09-2015, 03:43 PM   #17
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Quote:
Originally Posted by hdavis View Post
Night light or air freshener. Or, bad outlet.
I would go with the air freshener. Seen this a few times with the Glade plug-in air fresheners. People plug them and never replace them.
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Old 09-09-2015, 04:07 PM   #18
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


I've seen that in all sorts of random receptacles, recently in a kitchen on a couple backsplash outlets. If the backside of the plate is fine, I don't worry, as long it's not actual charring. It usually wipes off easily with windex or a magic eraser.
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Old 09-10-2015, 07:01 AM   #19
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Re: Black Soot Above Receptacles


Almost guaranteed it's an electrical issue, most likely back stabbed receptacles or a remote chance that it's aluminum wiring. It might just be old receptacles. I have had old receptacles crumble when I remove them.

Combine that with a high current load like a space heater or high amp vacuum and you've got smoke. Like some guys have said, a night light might even cause it.

Changing existing switches and receptacles on a reno job is a nice little upsell. Not only does it give the job a nice, finished look, it takes care of some safety concerns as well.

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