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While investigating a "hot" smell in the house, I discovered it was coming from the powder room. My wife had plugged in one of those hot oil smelly thingees in the powder room. I unplugged it, and a large spark jumped out of the outlet. I made a mad dash and turned off the circuit breaker. After removing the outlet I found the hot lead had shorted and melted about two inches of the insulation, and welded itself to the contact screw. I had also installed one of those foam insulation pads behind the face plate, like recommended by whomever recommends these kind of things, it had also melted. The strange thing is, the bathrooms are connected to a GFI, which did not trip. I tested the GFI circuit and it works like it's supposed to. At this point, I do not know which item caused this very near disaster - the smelly hot oil thingee or the foam pad. I "ripped" out the foam pads from all the other outlets / switches, just in case. The only hot oil thingee in the house was in the powder room. SUGGESTION: If you have any of these things attached to an outlet / switch, pull them out and throw as far as possible!
 

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Odd that the gfci didnt trip but it is used to detect a fault to groung and not necessarily short. Your breaker shoukd have tripped. I would assume it was the oily thingy. But if your gfci isnt connected to that outlet properly that would be a problem too. I would toss the oily thingy in the trash either you or an electician check the wireing on the outlet and pslossible run some new wire if needed.
 

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Hmmmm? My wife has 2 or 3 of these things in the house, with one at a time on frequently, especially in the winter. Thanks for the heads up, but we have never had a problem with them. They are all on GFIC though.
 

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The gfci or the breaker shouldn't have tripped. It wasnt a ground fault or short.

More than likely that receptacle had a loose connection. Change it and be done. If you want.

That oil heater is no different than a small crock pot. Most things will spark when unplugged under load. The heavier the load the bigger the spark. I wouldn't throw it away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Too late - in the trash and picked up today. This was not a "regular" oil heater, rather one of them things that are plugged into an outlet to generate an obscuring smell throughout the house. My mistake was calling it a hot oil thingee, as it is/was a wax holder that is melted by heat generated through the outlet when plugged in, which creates the scent of whatever is in the unit. No matter - it ain't with us any more. AND, another will not take it's place, by order of the site commander - or so she says.
 

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I believe that those oil or wax heaters only have around a 10-20W heating element. It is a very small load and unlikely to cause an electrical problem unless it is defective.

I do agree with your assessment that they are evil. I hate those things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good news. I had an electrician test all 3 of the GFCI circuits from the panel to all the outlets. Everything is within specifications. When he saw the outlet that caused all the problem he was baffled. The only thing he could think of is, the hot wax perfume generator was incorrectly assembled (probably by those Chinese political prisoners), which led to the over heat. His words, "I hate those things. They have caused more trouble than they're worth. And, if he had his way, they would be banned". So, take this as a "beware" of those users of hot wax things attached to an outlet that create non-appreciated smells throughout the house.
 
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