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Discussion Starter #1
It depends on if I can figure out a way to feel safe about it again.

damage2.jpg \

So this happened today. It seems to have happened before the power was even turned on, though I'm not sure how it could unl;ess they came on almost an hour earlier than they were set to, or possibly didn't turn off last night.

At first I though it was these that cause it:

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... but on further inspection it may have started between two LED strings. This is the terminal outlet plus on a string of purple lights from Amazon.

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I am leaving them in situ for an electrician friend to come inspect them tomorrow and help me figure out what happened.

I always cover any exposed plugs with gorilla tape. I never string more than 3 untits together. We have had a lot of rain but that is normal and happens every year.

Bonus, look how that plastic broder fencing from Lowes just went like a fuse.

IMG_3319 (1).jpg

After a an anti-anxiety attack pill and a beer I am at least calm enough to talk about it. I don't know if I am going to be able to bring myself to decorate next year after this happened. If I burned down the house and killed my cats with this crap I don't think I could ever function at all again.

EDIT: looks like the lights I now suspect are actrually from HOME DEPOT, not Amazon.
 

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WOW! It does look exactly like a fuse.
So sorry this happened but glad you found out about the potential hazard without much damage - I am sure your electrician friend can give you some insight - I know nothing about electrical stuff so won't even speculate on it.
I am so happy you and kitties are safe!
 

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That's scary that you cannot trust these made in china lights..... leave them on and leave the house it could be
burnt down when you get home. Good thing you didn't have a serious fire.
 

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i'm thinking that, quite possibly, you had a bad/loose connection between the strings causing it to overheat?

i don't want to downplay this incident, but if there was a consistent problem in manufacturing wouldn't there be a recall? the importer would ultimately be responsible, i would think ... anyways, if you look at how many thousands/millions of these that have been sold over the years there is a strong possibility that you may have purchased a "bad apple"? and that the odds could possibly be that this has the same odds of winning the lottery?

glad that the damage was "minor" and you & the cats are ok

amk
 

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Wow, I was almost afraid to open up the thread and sorry to see the photos and sure can understand being shaken over it. I also appreciate the photos and telling us about it. Serves as a good reminder to everyone.

I think it's great you are leaving it in place to have an expert look at it and determine the cause. Sure someone from the fire department might even come out if you called, but not sure. I know the gas company is really good coming out free of charge to investigate when you detect a possible gas leak. I know I definitely would want to know the source for certain so there would be no repeat and turn it into a learning moment. I wonder if there's a chance the rain this year got in-between the strands or into a bulb area and created a short?

I can see the short fencing area looking like partial charred debris on the ground there. That area really looks the worse and wonder if that's where it started. Were there strand lights on the little plastic fencing? Reminds me of the edging I bought from Big Lots. Also curious if the 2 different lighting strands (Target bats and Amazon LED purples) were plug in together?

As for your comment about the hour they came on, are you factoring in the change in time we had last week? Just finally got around to changing my car clock today so that was fresh on my mind.

Annamarykahn makes a good point about not letting this incident deter you from decorating. Glad you guys are all OK. Let us know what you find out.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
yeah time chang accounted for. we had a power outtage last night which might have messed up the timer so they may have still been on or the timer may have been messed up.. I went to bed before they would have gone out last night so i dont know if they went out or not.
 

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I know it's inconvenient, but in the future you could go out and manually unplug the lights before you went to bed. That might help you rest easier. I can certainly understand your being very upset, but it would be sad if an isolated incident cause you go quit decorating.
 

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Just be glad, IT CAN BE WORSE. I keep telling my self that I plan to use lights in my decoration outdoor, but I have not been able to do that in the last few years. I am glad that you are okay and same goes for your kittens. Don't let hold you back. You could skip the lights next year if you are not all for it.
 

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As an electrician myself Its always scary to see that stuff. Its easy to forget how fast that type of thing can happen. I'm sure your local electrician can point you in the right direction and hopefully ease your mind. I personally don't tape my connection points because I feel like that gives water a place to collect.
Maybe you could ask your local guy about an AFCI / GFCI combo breaker to feed your outdoor outlets. This gives you protection against shock and provides an extra level of protection on that circuit.
 

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Had a Made-in-China spinning projector - which I left unattended in an upstairs bedroom - start to smoke! If I hadn't caught it in time, it probably would have caught the house on fire.

After reading this thread, I'm having second thoughts about the Amazon-bought flashing LED lights I bought for my Christmas tree! :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
New information!!

So my pal came out today and I think we got to the bottom of it. Basically there was a perfect storm of things going wrong here. I will sum up because it took a while to sus out.

1) The main problem is that the "outdoor" lights really aren't as outdoorsey as they'd like you to believe. We checked all the other similar strings I had, all from Lowes or Home Depot, as ALL of them had some water in the plug around the fuses. They weren't IN water this is just from the rain we have had and generally get every year. Some of the fuses had weird irregularities like being seated poorly, dents, etc. All of them also had a very thin divider between the two fuses. He's pretty sure some water got in there and arc'd because of the poor manufacturing standards. I have some 'heavy duty' lights from Amazon that had no water in the fuse case, a thicker divider, and thicker wires so I will probably replace all the cheap ones with those next year.

2) One of the fuses on the offending plug was bad but this may or may not have been an issue since there seems to have been water in the fuse case. Yeah everything was burned and melted but the fuses were stuck in the melted plug. :eek:

3) The most likely explaination is the breaker for the plug they were plugged into also had a constant high amp draw that masked the problem so it never tripped because the way the garage was wired makes no sense. Breakers have been shifted so it should be safer now.

He rerouted the power to the high amp equipment so in the future it would be on a different breaker. He also gave me tips on waterproofing with some grease stuff for that purpose and electrical friction tape, shrink tube, etc. He's going to get me info on specific products he likes.

So all my other Halloween projects have been back-burnered till the safety project is done. I have 9-10 months to replace all the cheap lights and that's doable if I budget a few each month. The rest of the waterproofing supplies will be cheap enough. I was going to do a big non-Halloween project this year but I think I'll hold off till this is done.

Now to get the railing repaired before the landlord notices. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Had a Made-in-China spinning projector - which I left unattended in an upstairs bedroom - start to smoke! If I hadn't caught it in time, it probably would have caught the house on fire.

After reading this thread, I'm having second thoughts about the Amazon-bought flashing LED lights I bought for my Christmas tree! :eek:
Actually the Amazon lights aren't the problem. The heavy Duty ones are better than the home de[pot ones.
 

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Thanks for the update. We have waterproof outlet box covers on all of our outdoor outlets since we re-landscaped. Part of code requirements but something I had wanted us to do since we bought our house. Of course that's only as good as long as there aren't any cord or extension cord points along the way that are exposed. I have seen these waterproof boxes intended for cord connections and probably should have a few on hand:

http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/electrical.shtml

I know from when our contractors ran buried electrical lines from our garage panel to our BBQ island that the conduit needs to allow for certain air space for all wires (thickness of which needs to be matched to the run length) so that the lines carrying electricity don't overheat inside the conduit. Always wondered if taping connections to keep water out was a good idea or wondered if it could cause overheating. When I've had a connection point in an extension cord going to an outdoor spot light, and expecting rain, I've tried to cover the connection point with a small bucket or such to keep the rain off of it. Kind of like the waterproof cord cover approach :eek:. Not practical if we Were to run a lot of holiday lighting but for our limited use on halloween night and sometimes a small xmas set up of lit trees, I'll do that. Those 100-150 light strands are good for keeping connection points down and we have used those in the past for rain gutter lighting. I also will light windows from the inside to avoid the outdoor elements.

I have seen people here discuss dielectrical grease and wonder if that's one of the things your friend has recommended to you? Clueless on some of this stuff. Love to see some of the approaches he suggested to you in photos down the road. Assume you are done with your hallowen lighting for this year.
 

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Don't know if this is a good or bad practice, but for my Christmas lights, but I'll either cover the connectors with a very small zip-lock plastic bag with a slit in the bottom seam or at minimum some sort of loose plastic secured with rubber bands. I usually don't bother with my Halloween lights since I do a one-nighter display.
 

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You could use di-electric grease. Its to help with water resisting a connection. You can find this at any car parts store or radio shack. Typically for cars its used for spark plug wire connections and other connections. As far as heat shink- i think thats almost impossible to cover a plug and it be water proof because most shrink wrap is junk now a days. Could use a combination of di-electric grease and 3m electrical tape to help water proof the connections. But any of the above wont help for crappy light fuse holders. May be able to use the combo as i mentioned above and it would help but i doubt it would solve the main problem.

Sucks you had a fire from the cheap built stuff that we all buy but pay more than its worth. Glad it was only on the outside of your home and everyone is ok.
 

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That's for the update lilibat. I have an pretty ordinary outside outlet with it's own trip in case of a surge or a short. I always assumed that would be enough to protect my house. Anyone know if that's true? I also don't waterproof anything. Just have dozens of extension cords and outlet expanders out in the rain or shine all week....
 
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