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A cooking stove with electricity and natural gas has been in place for 20 years. Last month I did deep frying, some of the oil went overboard, touched the electric plate, and some of it instantly vaporized into smoke. The oil also left a definite stain on the electric plate. Note that I didn't smell anything burned, and that the electric plate and cooktop was 1 meter from the power plug.

I didn't use the cooktop for a month and yesterday, when I turned on an oven daisy-chained to the same outlet, the house circuit breaker went off and I smelled something burned, which I then identified as burnt plastic. The outlet was burnt-out along with the electric plug of the cooktop:

Burn-out outlet and plug

Burnt-out plug

(I found it hard to take a good picture because the burnt area is the blackest of the black.)

I did not find any residue of oil near the outlet. The cooktop has been in place for many years in an area by the seaside with much salt, humidity (up to 80%), so metal often corrodes and rusts.

Could cooking oil cause the outlet to arc and burn out? If not, what is the most likely cause?

Update

Here is a photo of the house's electric panel. The tripped switch was third from the top left:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Was this a regular MCB that tripped, or a RCD? – ThreePhaseEel Feb 14 at 12:42
  • It was the electric panel, so I'd say it's a miniature circuit breaker, but the switches look like two-pole residual-current devices, so I don't know. How can I find if the electric panel is MCB or RCD? – miguelmorin Feb 14 at 19:16
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    RCDs should have a "test" button on them that will trip the RCD when pushed – ThreePhaseEel Feb 15 at 0:52
  • I found no buttons, so the electric panel is MCB, miniature circuit breaker. – miguelmorin Feb 15 at 9:13
  • Can you post a photo of the panel please? – ThreePhaseEel Feb 15 at 14:34
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Any answers to this will probably be based of the actual experience of the answerer. Cooking oil is not a good conductor of electricity. It could possibly trip a GFCI. Outlets like the one shown will fail over the years because their contacts lose their ability to "hold tight" due to the metals being annealed over time because of the current draw. My experience is that outlets usually "cook" or arc for awhile and then finally let go and short out. This will even happen with 110 Volt outlets with little load. Corrosion and time, I think that's what did this in.

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    I agree oil is usually an insulator , but may have caused some damage that wiped out the outlet strip and plug. – Ed Beal Feb 14 at 14:15
  • @MichaelKaras: salt doesn't dissolve in oil. – dandavis Feb 14 at 17:16
  • I will replace the extension cord and multplier and the power plug with a bit of rewiring. If it works fine after that, then age and corrosion were the likely causes. – miguelmorin Feb 16 at 14:59
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The symptoms described point to the outlet being hot enough to instantly smoke oil, before the oil even possibly came into play. In short, your outlet was already melting down when the oil splash drew your attention to it. A little oil on the outside, even if it somehow did conduct and heat as a result, would not result in the inside being all burnt. Replace the outlet.

  • I updated the question: what smoked oil was the electric plate on the cooktop, not the electric outlet which was one meter away. Also, I didn't smell burnt plastic when the oil smoked. – miguelmorin Feb 14 at 19:21

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