A Call for Help- Mary’s Electrical Nightmare

The Story-

Mary’s daughter, Annette, did the right thing for her mom. She installed a new window air conditioning unit, because the old one no longer worked. The entire installation went well; there were no size or leveling issues. They turned the unit on, and for a couple of hours it worked perfectly.

Then It Started

The new a/c unit started clicking off and on, like turning your light switch on and off. To be safe, Mary turned off the unit and called an electrician. So far, so good.

Electrician to the Rescue

The electrician turned on the air conditioning unit and confirmed what Mary had said. The unit would not stay on, and it was sputtering. He made a decision: the current detection device was the problem. He took out his wire cutters and cut off the current detection device.

Problem-The current detection device that the electrician removed is needed to prevent the risk of fires. From the a/c manufacturer:

Current Detection Devise Removed by the electrician
New three prong plug

He then installed a new three prong plug at the end of the air conditioner wire. Job done, he plugged it into the 20 amp dedicated receptacle for the a/c unit and guess what, it still sputtered!!!!!

The electrician removed the receptacle from the wall, and left it hanging.

He was done for the day (!)

The electrician plugged the air conditioner into the old 15 amp receptacle (with a grounding adapter) and left for the day, leaving Mary and her daughter in a state of shock, panic, and worry.

A hanging receptacle


Voltage Detector

The first item, as always with electricity, was to test the dedicated a/c outlet for current. I did this with my current detector. There was power so the next step was to locate the breaker. Annette brought me to the breaker box, and unfortunately, the breakers were not marked. I plugged a lamp into the outlet, went into the basement and started flipping off breakers. When the lamp went off, Annette stamped on the floor. We found the correct breaker, marked it, and turned the power off.


I took the electrical tape off the dedicated 20 amp a/c receptacle. I found a burned receptacle and a very, very loose and burned black wire, the HOT WIRE- the cause of the sputtering problem.

Burned Hot Wire/Burned outlet

I also took the plug apart, just to make sure. Guess what, the green ground wire was not connected.

Loose green ground wire

Problem Solved

I went to the local hardware store, purchased a new 20 amp receptacle, went back to Mary’s house and installed it. A CALL FOR HELP, JOB COMPLETED! The Current Detection Device still has to be replaced. Mary will contact the manufacturer and have it done.

New 20 amp receptacle


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