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Electric fire plug overheating

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BarcodeBarcode Forumite
4.6K posts
Since I'm a typical female, I know very little about electrics, but .... last week, I bought two dimplex electric heaters off e-bay. The buyer delivered on Tuesday. They seemed to be working fine and dandy.

When I went to unplug one last night to plug in something else, I noticed the actual plug and the prongs on the plug were VERY hot. Now this doesn't seem normal? Other devices don't heat up, maybe the PS2, but it's never so hot the plug can't be taken out without burning your hand as I almost did last night.

Since then, I've left the offending heater unplugged convincing myself I will burn down the house if I'm not careful. I presume the plug might need changing?

Or am I fretting about something normal?
'We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. '
-- T. S. Eliot


  • chris73chris73 Forumite
    364 posts
    Electric Fires / heaters consume a lot of current, the heat is caused by the flow of electricity through the metal pins. Most electric fires are rated at, or close to the maximum design output of the socket (13 Amps)

    When drawing this amount of current some heat is normal, and to be expected, however if it is getting so hot that you can't touch the pins, or the plug is in danger of damage then something is wrong.

    One of the main causes of plugs overheating, is a loose wire, either inside the plug, or the socket itself. Sometimes the plug and socket metalwork could be tarnished, corroded or just old and worn.

    I would first try replacing the plug on the fire, try and get one made by 'MK' since these are of good quality and being ceramic don't have any chance of deforming around the pins when they get warm.

    If you intend on using the heaters in the same place, then it may be a good idea to get an Electrician to fit a fixed spur unit to feed them, although this shouldn't really be required and isn't practical, unless it is a storage heater.

    Take a look at the back / bottom of the heater and see what its rating is, it should give a numerical figure with a 'W' or 'Kw' after it. For Example 2000W or 2KW. Post the rating here.

    One other question which is niggling me, you don't have both heaters running from the same socket outlet do you?
    My Karma ran over your Dogma
  • BarcodeBarcode Forumite
    4.6K posts
    It's a 3kw heater. One is upstairs, one is downstairs. The upstairs one runs from my extension which has my computer plugs in, and the downstairs one plugs directly into the socket. It says it is between 240 - 250 volts. I don't see how it can be the socket as it is now happening to both heaters, just checked and turned the upstairs one off for a bit.

    I'll have a look at changing the plugs, never done this before in my life either ...... well, another thing learned!
    'We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. '
    -- T. S. Eliot
  • Couple of questions - Are the plugs molded on and can you try the one that gets hot in a different socket? Some molded plugs are not put together very well and sometimes the sockets get a bit tired.
    The quicker you fall behind, the longer you have to catch up...
  • chris73chris73 Forumite
    364 posts
    At 3kw these will be drawing very close to the maximum which you can draw from a 13A socket. I wouldn't recommend plugging a heater into any multiway type adaptor, or having the heater share the same socket with another appliance. Really a heater of this rating should be plugged directly into the wall socket.

    If there are switches on the convector, to allow operation at lower consumption (some heaters have switches marked 'I' and 'II' which allows the heater to run at 1 , 2 and 3 KW) then you could run it from your extension with just the 'II' switch on, which would equate to about 2KW and still give out a fair amount of heat, but even so, I am dubious sometimes about running heavy current appliances from extension leads, especially the plastic imported 4 gang variety and always make sure that the lead is fully unwound
    My Karma ran over your Dogma
  • First thing to do is unplug it.
    The plug should never get this hot as it is designed not too, thats what british standards are for.
    Secondly check the fuse, if it is getting this hot then there is a good chance the fuse is possibly over rated to allow the heater to work as it may have a fault.
    Being 3kw they will require a 13amp fuse.
    It maybe that one of the elements in the heater has become short circuit or something has become damaged, which has shorted out part of the heating element. This would reduce the resistance of the element, which would inturn increase the current required. For this to happen the fuse would have to be larger than 13amps.
    Lastly check cables at both ends. Make sure connections are tight and make sure it is wired correctly. Brown or red is live, blue or black is neutral.
    Most important thing is, if you are in any doubt, don't use them.

    Hope this helps
  • paul_hpaul_h Forumite
    1.1K posts
    Part of the Furniture
    A 13A plug will get slightly warm at full load, but should never get hot to touch.

    I would echo the other poster's comments, especially Mr Proctalgia's about the tired sockets and poor quality moulded plugs.

    The most common cause I see for this is the 'tired' socket - the sprung contacts within the sockets become weak with age/use, especially common with the cheaper foreign made ones. This can also cause burning on the plug pins - if they are damaged, the plug will need to be replaced.

    This may happen on more than one socket in your house as they are all likely to be of a similar age. Try to locate a socket which has been very rarely used and try the heaters in there.

    If they still get hot, chop the plugs off and replace.
  • BarcodeBarcode Forumite
    4.6K posts
    Have tried the plugs on various sockets, same results. Thanks for all the advice, the fuse is a 13amp. I am going to replace both plugs in the week so will hopefully be sorted out.
    'We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. '
    -- T. S. Eliot
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