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Old 03-22-2011, 09:46 PM
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block heater is melting extension cord plug

Recently I noticed that my block heater plug is melting the extension plug on one prong. I tried 2 extensions with the same results. What could be causing this and how do I trouble shoot the problem?

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2006 F-350 Diesel, 4x4, crew cab, short box, single rear wheel

Last edited by SnoSheriff; 03-22-2011 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 03-22-2011, 10:12 PM
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Is it a good quality heavy gauge cord?
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:30 PM
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Um, no I don't think it's a heavy duty type cord. I used this cord all winter and only recently noticed the problem
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:35 PM
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You need a heavy extension cord, which will have better contacts in the plug. These block heaters are something like 1500 watts, which is over 10A current draw.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:43 PM
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Ok, I got a 14/3 extension cord rated for 15Amps and I will try it this weekend.

Is there a way to test the block heater before I ruin the new extension cord? I do have a multimeter... Can I test the resistance or something to see if it's defective?
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:54 PM
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It won't pull more current if it's bad, only less or none. The new cord should fix things.
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Old 03-31-2011, 05:31 AM
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If you have a clamp on ampmeter you can use this to determine what amperage you are drawing. For example, a 1500 watt heater should pull approximately 12.5 amps +/-. The resistance of your heater should read roughly 9.6 ohms depending on its age and condition. A 14/3 extension cord is close to the maximum allowable current (15 amps max.). If you are dealing with a very long extension cord you also have to deal with voltage drop will will cause more current draw and possibly melt your extension cord. If you have not tripped a breaker (or blown a fuse) on your household circuit I suspect you extension cord is too small (wire size) or too long (50-100 feet?) If this is also being used outdoors/in a garage it should be on a GFCI. Hope this helps.
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiprek View Post
If you have a clamp on ampmeter you can use this to determine what amperage you are drawing. For example, a 1500 watt heater should pull approximately 12.5 amps +/-. The resistance of your heater should read roughly 9.6 ohms depending on its age and condition. A 14/3 extension cord is close to the maximum allowable current (15 amps max.). If you are dealing with a very long extension cord you also have to deal with voltage drop will will cause more current draw and possibly melt your extension cord. If you have not tripped a breaker (or blown a fuse) on your household circuit I suspect you extension cord is too small (wire size) or too long (50-100 feet?) If this is also being used outdoors/in a garage it should be on a GFCI. Hope this helps.
A few clarifications. First, a clamp on amp meter would need to be clamped around only one wire in the extension cord, either the positive or neutral, but not the ground. If you clamp it around the entire extension cord, it will read zero as the current in the positive and neutral will cancel each other out to the meter. Second, since the heater is a resistive element, additional resistance and voltage drop in the extension cord will lower the total current being drawn.
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