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Old 06-09-2011, 09:53 AM
 
2,068 posts, read 2,852,476 times
Reputation: 3883
Default Electrical cord issue -- turning brown?

I don't really know where to post this, so mods, feel free to move to the appropriate place.

I live in an apartment complex. New construction; I am the first tenant to have lived in my particular apartment. LOOKS great, but I'm finding that there are lots of issues that speak to shoddy workmanship, materials, etc. Most of them are annoying but not necessarily a big deal and I don't harrass management about them.

There is one issue, however, that's making me nervous: I have two pendant lights that hang down over the bar/counter in the kitchen. They have white cords, and the fixtures are ceiling-mounted. The cord from ceiling to lamp is about 2.5 feet long. The cords are beginning to turn black/brown. The discoloration starts at the lamp part and is creeping up the cord toward the ceiling. Right now, it's climbed about 3 inches on one lamp and about 2 inches on the other. When the lights are first turned off, the cord at the base of the lamp -- where the discoloration is -- feels warm but not hot. That warm fades away the longer the light is off.

I've contacted management about this and was told:
1) This is happening all over the complex to all the pendant lights.
2) The management company said they've been checked out and are not a fire hazard.
3) The management company said that the lights would all be replaced eventually, but that there's no schedule for the replacement and they couldn't tell me when MINE would be replaced. (Most recently I was told that the pendant lights would be replaced as people's lightbulbs burned out.)

I'm no electrician, but I feel VERY anxious about this creeping discoloration. It looks to me like the cords are burning from the inside out, although of course I have no idea if that is happening. Is this truly not a fire hazard? Do I truly not have anything to worry about?
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:06 AM
 
Location: The Triad (nc)
17,195 posts, read 21,839,868 times
Reputation: 14271
This is the SHEATHING that covers the actual electrical conductors inside it?

Off hand I'll say it's either one of two things:
1) heat related (think toasted marshmallows) or
2) housekeeping related.
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
11,490 posts, read 25,992,256 times
Reputation: 14006
Is there a UL sticker on the lamp? Manufacturer? Is it only rated for a small wattage lamp and has an incandescent installed? Recently, I've seen lamps rated only for 40 watts or less. This sounds like a product that would be subject to a recall.

If the cord is at all brittle, or you are concerned, a call or letter to the fire marshal would be in order. To get a CO, a building has to meet fire codes. This may not.
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Seaford, Delaware
3,350 posts, read 10,057,078 times
Reputation: 2187
Check if there is a sticker on the fixture that limits the size(wattage) of the bulb used in the lamp. If you exceed the wattage, it may be creating heat that is burning the cord. Heat rises and a pendant light will concentrate the heat at the highest point and up the cord. If the bulb wattage has not been exceeded, I would turn them off and replace them. Sounds like the cord is burning from the inside out.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:49 PM
 
2,068 posts, read 2,852,476 times
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I checked -- no UL sticker that says anything about wattage.

This is what the lamp looks like:


And this is the creeping brown stain:


It's worse from different angles, etc. (And the cord sheathing is clear, not white.) After the light is turned off, the metal parts and the cord are very warm, almost hot to the touch. (Not too hot to touch, but too hot to hold.)
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Old 06-09-2011, 06:58 PM
 
584 posts, read 1,307,122 times
Reputation: 658
This lamp could still provide years of service. Please please pack it with straw tightly wrapped in gun cotton.

Just kidding.

This is a hazard waiting to happen. There could be at least two causes: the diameter of the wiring may be too narrow to accommodate the electrical load. It's like forcing a lot of water through a tube that's too small. Or the insulation (the clear plastic insulation) may be faulty, allowing transfer of energy (heat) from one wire to another and may eventually fail, leading to arcing from one wire to another and possible fire. Or a combination of the two, or one leading to the other.

I wouldn't use these pendants anymore since there's a chance the insulation could be degraded at some point along the two wires. JMO!
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:29 PM
 
10,426 posts, read 8,444,336 times
Reputation: 11496
Please have someone from the fire dept check it out. Even if you dont use your lights any longer, others in the complex are and that can constitute a hazard to your property. The fact that management has scheduled replacement of these lights in a new complex tells you that it must be aware of a problem.
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Old 06-10-2011, 04:51 PM
 
2,068 posts, read 2,852,476 times
Reputation: 3883
Quote:
Originally Posted by texasfirewheel View Post
Please have someone from the fire dept check it out. Even if you dont use your lights any longer, others in the complex are and that can constitute a hazard to your property. The fact that management has scheduled replacement of these lights in a new complex tells you that it must be aware of a problem.
They HAVEN'T really scheduled replacement. That's one of the things that has me feeling anxious. They ARE aware of the problem -- all of the leasing agents live in the complex, and I've heard from 2 of them that their lights have the same issue. I've been told that the lights will be replaced, but when I asked WHEN they'd be replaced, I was told they didn't know..."probably when people start calling to say that their bulbs have burned out."

(I have more than a few issues with this complex and the management company, but I won't get into it here. Suffice it to say, though, that their non-response about the lights is what I've come to expect.)
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Old 06-10-2011, 05:26 PM
 
Location: A little suburb of Houston
3,700 posts, read 11,095,033 times
Reputation: 1886
Make sure you make the notifications in writing and keep a copy. Just in case...
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