Why do loose connections cause wires to become hot?

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Tyler Smallman

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Tyler Smallman  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hello chris,

I was wondering why loose electrical connections cause things to heat up. for instance my wall outlet is a bit loose and when I run the vacuum the cord gets really hot. why is it that loose connections cause heat in the wiring?

Thanks. love the podcast.

Tyler Smallman

What do you think?


Offline graham.d

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Why do loose connections cause wires to become hot?
« Reply #1 on: 11/09/2008 11:32:27 »
Hi Tyler. If there is a loose connection it means that there can be poor electrical contact. This means that there is resistance to the electric current flow causing power to be dissipated as heat. You should get the wall outlet fixed because it could cause a fire. However, I was surprised that the cord is getting hot. If it is getting hot evenly along its length it is not the socket at fault. If it is getting hot just very close to the outlet then it probably is the poor contact. You should get it checked in any case.