I have an outlet that burned up pretty badly - it is on a recently run 20 amp circuit. I had a space heater plugged into a heavy duty extension cord running from this outlet. From what I have read it seems,like this is often caused by loose wiring but I don't believe that is the case here. I have cut back the hard wiring to a point where the wire is clean and free of any burning and want to replace the outlet but am really concerned with what may have caused the problem in the first place. I feel like the outlet may have just been overloaded is that likely?

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    Was the old connection via a) J-hook on the wire onto the screw terminals, or b) backstabs? Can you tell what size the wire in the wall is? Did the extension cord end also burn up? Jun 2, 2018 at 20:01
  • Please clarify: What parts melted? The heater's cord? The receptacle? Wire jacketing behind the receptacle? When you say "burned up" do you mean charred? Smoked? Did you actually see flames? What else did you have connected to the outlet? What gauge are the wires to and from the outlet?
    – feetwet
    Jun 2, 2018 at 20:28
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    The hard wiring is 12/2 and run 6 mos ago. It is hooked on the terminal screws not back stabbed. The receptacle itself melted - there were no flames but I smelled burning and started investigating where it was coming from and it was glowing red on the side if the receptacle inside the box the receptacle itself is melted and the wires hard wiring was charred at the point where it was tied into the receptacle - it was hot enough that it melted the box. The extension cord appears to be free of any charting or melting
    – NanaC
    Jun 2, 2018 at 20:39
  • 20 amp circuit - but what was the outlet rated to support? Jun 6, 2018 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


From the comments you seemed to just have a weirdo defective receptacle. Don't buy the contractor pack 2 for .99 cents. Buy a good 20A receptacle for a few bucks and put it all back together. 12 ga wire will handle 15 amps which is all a space heater should ever pull. Fire it up and monitor it for a bit. If anything is questionable, I would start to look at the space heater itself but then again your breaker should trip before anything gets out of hand.

  • Thanks for your input - obviously when its concerning electric you can't be too careful and I really needed that second opinion. Thanks for your help!
    – NanaC
    Jun 3, 2018 at 13:51
  • In General space heater circuits are rated at 100% of their rated load, but if they are in a particularly cold area they may be running more than 3 hours. That would move it to a continuous duty demand and you need to add 25% to get the proper circuit size. Example a 1500W heater divided by 120V = 12.5 amps or a 15A circuit is fine, if you have to 25% for continuous duty, thats 15.62 A. So you will need to move to a 20A circuit and devices, or set your heater to a lower range if possible. Use your best judgement. Jun 3, 2018 at 14:06
  • The OP stated that he is connected to a 20A circuit so continuous duty for a 1500W space heater should be fine.
    – vin944
    Jun 3, 2018 at 18:02
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    If this was my house, I'd be a tiny bit concerned that the breaker isn't working as designed. A simple test would be to run the space heater and another high draw device (kettle, etc) and make sure that it trips the breaker. Your panel isn't Zinsco or FPE, is it? Jun 3, 2018 at 21:47

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