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Does anyone here know much about electrical work?


Chris-
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The background is that I live in a very old rental unit (100+ years old) with no A/C, so three years ago I bought a stand-alone A/C unit for my living room. It was plugged into a grounded outlet on a 15A circuit with my entertainment console (more on that later), and for the first summer I didn’t have any issues. 

 

The second summer, one day the breaker tripped when the compressor came on. I called out an LG (manufacturer) tech and he took a look, and he said everything should be OK; in his opinion the circuit was large enough for the A/C, and the power draw of the entertainment center shouldn’t be enough to cause any issues. Probably just a one-time thing.

 

This summer, the third, some things have alluded to a much bigger issue. A few weeks ago I heard a loud crack/snap noise, but didn’t think much of it because I couldn’t tell where it came from. Then, this past Friday, I heard it again distinctly from the outlet. A cursory Google search indicated that it was likely an arc and/or a sign that the insulation was compromised, and that it posed an immediate fire risk. So I unplugged everything, turned off the circuit, and opened up the outlet. Nothing seemed to be wrong, however I’m not an electrician, so obviously I could have missed something. So I put the outlet plate back on, decided to get a 14 gauge extension cord to plug the entertainment center into another outlet, and I plugged the A/C back in. 

 

For the rest the weekend I didn’t hear the noise again, however this morning I heard it again when the A/C wasn’t even running. So I unplugged it, turned off the circuit, and called my landlord to report the issue. However after that I discovered something I had no clue about...The refrigerator is hooked up to the same circuit, even though the outlets are on opposite walls. 

 

I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do here or what to ask. Any general advice or suggestions would be welcome, but some off the top of my head...

 

  • Am I correct to assume that the A/C and fridge can’t or shouldn’t share the same circuit?
  • If my landlord claims everything looks good, can I trust them or does the noise (and its potential causes) warrant escalating the issue?
  • If they tell me I simply can’t have the A/C on that outlet because of the refrigerator, can I use the extension cord instead? It’s 14 gauge and explicitly marketed for large appliances, but I’ve also read a lot about how it’s not a good idea to use an extension cord for air conditioners.
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Is your insurance all paid up? :p 

 

Like others have said, I wouldn't mess around with electricity and potential fire hazards. Without someone actually looking at things in person I would be somewhat skeptical of any advice you might get from here. It seems best to let an electrician take a look. 

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On 6/25/2018 at 10:40 AM, Chris- said:
  • Am I correct to assume that the A/C and fridge can’t or shouldn’t share the same circuit?
  • If my landlord claims everything looks good, can I trust them or does the noise (and its potential causes) warrant escalating the issue?
  • If they tell me I simply can’t have the A/C on that outlet because of the refrigerator, can I use the extension cord instead? It’s 14 gauge and explicitly marketed for large appliances, but I’ve also read a lot about how it’s not a good idea to use an extension cord for air conditioners.

All fixed appliance are required to have a dedicated circuit but given the age of your house its not surprising that it isnt. At a minimum your LL should have had the other outlet removed and blanked off.

 

Your LL should get an EC out to look at it but if he wont I would recommend you do get one your self, depending on where you live a 1-2 hour service call will run you about $150-$300.

 

Your AC really should be on its own circuit but not much you can do, if I had to use an extension cord I would use one thats atleast 12 or 10.  I also recommend you buy an outlet tester and verifiy that all the outlets are wired correctly or If you have an EC come out they can do that fairly quickly

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They sent someone out yesterday to replace the outlet (he's on the maintenance crew; no clue if he has traditional electrical training), so I'm going to wait to see if I hear the noise again before escalating. And I decided I'll use the extension cord for the air conditioner; it was explicitly marketed for large appliances (including air conditioners), so I'll just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't overheat.

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Sounds like they pulled too many amps when they were both running. Can you not just plug the AC into another line that has nothing else drawing a lot of amps through it? The 14 guage wire is rated for 15 amps. I would think that an AC would need a bit heavier line going to it. But I don't know what the ac you have will draw.

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