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Old 12-03-2021, 08:30 PM   #1
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Off Topic Electrical Question

Not RV related but I have an electrical question for those knowledgeable with residential electric...

I'm having an extended stay with an elderly relative in Florida. I've been charging my Apple Notebook from the same electrical outlet during my stay with no issues. Last night, when I plugged the notebook charger into the wall outlet that I've been using for several weeks, it sparked inside the outlet. I instantly found my Notebook to have hot skin. Naturally, I unplugged the charger immediately. Today I plugged the charger back into the same outlet..... no spark, no hot skin on my Notebook.

Can someone explain to me why a hot skin condition on my Notebook would happen intermittently from the same wall outlet?

TIA,
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:05 PM   #2
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Did you lay the notebook on a bed or cloth chair? That would heat up the notebook. I can't see where the outlet would heat up the notebook.
The outlet may have a loose wire connection causing the spark.
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:08 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by W5CRE View Post
Did you lay the notebook on a bed or cloth chair? That would heat up the notebook. I can't see where the outlet would heat up the notebook.
The outlet may have a loose wire connection causing the spark.
"Hot skin" does not refer to temperature. It refers to an electrically charged case.
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:10 PM   #4
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Did you lay the notebook on a bed or cloth chair? That would heat up the notebook. I can't see where the outlet would heat up the notebook.
The outlet may have a loose wire connection causing the spark.
Thank you for the reply. To clarify, by "hot skin" I mean that the Apple Notebook exterior is electrically charged - I can feel electrical current running through it when I touch it.
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:14 PM   #5
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"Hot skin" does not refer to temperature. It refers to an electrically charged case.
New one to me. Thanks. Sounds like the OP has a hotbook instead of a macbook. Short in the charger receptacle on the notebook maybe.

As a note fyi.. A lot of campers use laptops while sitting up in a camper trailer bed. This is ok as long as you support the laptop on a solid hard pad so it can get adequate ventilation. Laying the laptop on the bed can overheat one pretty fast.
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Old 12-04-2021, 02:57 PM   #6
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The problem is not intermittent after all. Once the Notebook is charged the condition stops. I'll call an electrician to come take a look.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:35 PM   #7
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Never had a mac laptop but I'm guessing the power cord has 3 prongs. In the middle of the cord there is a power supply to convert the household volts to charging volts and finally the jack that plugs into the laptop. Cannot imagine a scenario that makes the outside of the laptop electrified other than your laptop charger is toast. You've tried various outlets in the house same result? Let us know what the electrician finds.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:37 PM   #8
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Once we had a charge block snap a spark so bad when I plugged it in that it put a burn mark on one of the prongs. Switched blocks and problem solved. Just for laughs I tore apart the bad block. I could find no evidence of anything wrong. Jay
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:55 PM   #9
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The problem is not intermittent after all. Once the Notebook is charged the condition stops. I'll call an electrician to come take a look.
An electrician sounds like a good idea since you saw sparks in the outlet. I'd suspect that there is something wrong with the charger itself since your 'electrically charged laptop skin condition' goes away when the laptop is charged and not drawing power from the outlet. As a precaution, you might want to pick up a surge protector to help protect your electronics. Probably wouldn't help this problem though.
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Old 12-04-2021, 04:50 PM   #10
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Just an FYI.

Testing a known problem by plugging your lap top back in to the offending outlet is not a good idea. Yeah, it could have gone away. Or it could have got worse. Best thing would have been to turn off the circuit breaker in the panel and then call the electrician if you don't have the knowledge or the test equipment.

And testing for "hot skin" with your fingers the second time.

Just saying.

Good Luck.
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:39 PM   #11
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Just a follow-up to a "hot skin"

In order for you to feel it you'd need to be sitting in a bathtub of water, or one hand on the laptop the other hand touching a grounded surface like a refrigerator, faucet, metal gas pipe, bare foot in wet grass, standing on damp concrete with wet shoes, you get the idea.

Troubleshooting over the phone is tough, internet almost impossible.
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Old 12-04-2021, 06:35 PM   #12
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Just a follow-up to a "hot skin"

In order for you to feel it you'd need to be sitting in a bathtub of water, or one hand on the laptop the other hand touching a grounded surface like a refrigerator, faucet, metal gas pipe, bare foot in wet grass, standing on damp concrete with wet shoes, you get the idea.

Troubleshooting over the phone is tough, internet almost impossible.
Oh I know, internet troubleshooting is like asking for advice on fb.... I do appreciate your input though. I'm not getting shocked or anything, just a very subtle "buzz" vibration on my fingertip. After the battery is fully charged, I feel nothing...

Very busy here with other things so I really haven't messed with this yet.... leaving it unplugged for now.
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Old 12-04-2021, 06:39 PM   #13
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Just a possible idea???? Could the outlet have reversed polarity?


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Old 12-04-2021, 06:56 PM   #14
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Just a possible idea???? Could the outlet have reversed polarity?







Or loose neutral, especially if the wire is stuck in the hole in the back of the outlet, instead of wrapped around the screw.
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Old 12-04-2021, 08:01 PM   #15
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Never had a mac laptop but I'm guessing the power cord has 3 prongs. In the middle of the cord there is a power supply to convert the household volts to charging volts and finally the jack that plugs into the laptop. Cannot imagine a scenario that makes the outside of the laptop electrified other than your laptop charger is toast. You've tried various outlets in the house same result? Let us know what the electrician finds.
<retired union electrician here>
The MacBook charger is not three prong...only two. It accepts 120-240 ac volts in and puts out 18.5 dc volts at 4.6 amps.
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Old 12-06-2021, 08:32 PM   #16
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Update: It wasn't the house. Got a new charging block, no more issues.

Thank you everyone who posted trying to help.
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