My electrical fire

My wife was drying her hair (1875 watt hair dryer) as I was talking to her. We both smelled that familiar smell and before she could turn off the dryer, flames shot out from the switch. She wasn’t hurt, she tried to turn it off but it wouldn’t turn off, we pulled the cord out of the GFCI outlet. The dryer also had an inline GFCI plug. There was no smoke, fire, or sparks at the outlet and no damage to the outlet.

Shouldn’t the GFCI outlet or the inline GFCI plug have tripped and shut the power off?

I checked the outlet and it trips with my tester and with the test button.

I’ll take a crack at it:

GFCI monitors for leakage of current. The device can burn up, but if there is no significant disparity (5+ mA) in the amperage being sent through the ungrounded (hot) conductor and what comes back through the grounded (neutral) conductor at the GFCI device it wont trip the GFCI.

If total amperage doesn’t exceed the rating of the breaker, it won’t trip either.

That is how it works, but I would think that the burning would cause a change in the amperage sufficient enough to trip the GFCI.

Maybe an AFCI would have tripped. :wink:

AAH! you are probably correct!! But, shouldn’t the GFCI have tripped? I looked at the GFCI and it appears OK and operating correctly.

Have you checked for recalls yet?

Assuming the air intake screen is not clogged with hair, like most are (and women never seem to clean) and you don’t find a recall, report the incident anyway to the CPSC. Also, call Sunbeam and report the incident.

Seems like a lot of work for a $20 hairdryer, doesn’t it… but if it adds to a growing list of incidents, it may be the one needed to trigger a recall!

Do the right thing, man!!! Save the world from shoddy products!!! Your wife could have been seriously injured (aka… hair catch fire)!!! Think of the “brownie points” and “special favors” you’ll earn when she finds out you’re taking on the fight!!!

That is unfortunate but normal, the fire was heat dissapation which is wattage, the wattage is driven by the current, if the neutral did not have current you would not have the wattage. The hair dryer would have shut off when the heat from the fire reached the little heat sensor in the air output section or when a wire burned in two. Never leave hair dryers etc plugged in when not using, it can fail in other ways too.

LOL, she will just laugh at me, like usual :wink:

Just caught this.
I vote for AFCI would have tripped it.

The voltage may have stayed the same while it arced.
1850 amps (damn ,she must have long hair to need that sorta power).

Can you imagine what might have happened, if she would have set it down, and then sprayed on the hair spray just as it ignited? She’d have been doing a Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial. It’s awesome that no one was hurt.

Watts Bob… not Amps! :roll:

Watt you talking about ?

The amps on that thing are pretty close to tripping a 20 amp breaker all on it’s own by the way.

Thanks as always for your loving correction.

Be sure to spell check me.(thanks):wink:

WATT-ever !!! :mrgreen:

Glad she’s OK.

Heres some hair dryer info.

Even with this screen in place, you’ll need to periodically pick lint off the screen. Too much lint can block the airflow into the dryer, and the hair dryer will overheat with less air carrying away the heat generated by the nichrome coil or other type of heating element. Newer hair dryers have incorporated some technology from the clothes dryer: a removable lint screen that’s easier to clean.
Millions of Americans start their day by blow drying their hair. However, a News 8 investigation discovered hair dryer complaints that included shooting fire, electric shocks and even statements of hair dryers “turning on” by themselves.


I’ve seen GFI’s that looked like that hairdryer; of course they weren’t offering the protection any more…

Had you allowed that proplem to persist, the GFCI (or the breaker feeding it would have eventually tripped. An AFCI would have likely caught it sooner - that’s the type of fault it is designed to protect against. Just for fun:mrgreen: install an ACFI then plug the dryer in again !! (just kidding).

Would it trip before the bath towels caught fire burning the wood cabinets and engulfing the room in flames? ;-):stuck_out_tongue:

And Mike, how’s the new hair dryer? :slight_smile: