Green smelly liquid from sockets

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by gillie, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Can anybody help,

    I have noticed some Green smelly liquid on my 13A sockets when you remove a plug from the socket the plug pins have the liquid on as well.

    Thanks for any help.
  2. John

    John Guest

    My sister had this problem a couple of years ago. An electrician said the whole house needed rewiring but she didn't take his advice and she's still alive! My guess is that wall paper paste has got into the sockets. This is hygroscopic (absorbs water) and this reacts with the brass of the socket giving you the green liquid. You could just replace the sockets if it is really bad.
  3. Old Engineer

    Old Engineer New Member

    How old is the installation?
    Guess and let us know.

    Does you house suffer with damp?
    I notice you say 'sockets' is there more than one with this problem?

    There has been a trend towards using a 'lubricant' in electrical terms for getting cables into conduits, this could also be the problem.

    The easiest way to check.....

    Plug a lamp into the socket in question and turn both lamp and socket ON (So the lamp is on), go to the fuseboard and extract the fuse that makes the lamp go off.

    Return to the socket and remove the faceplate fixing screws.

    Pull the socket gently away from the back box, the cables should be connected into terminals on the rear of the face plate.

    Technical bit now... have a 'butchers' at the condition of the back of the socket, if it's pretty clean, then the previous post is probably right. Eather way, the best option is to replace the face plate with a new one.

    The red cables go in the 'L' terminal, the black cables in the 'N' terminal and the Green/yellow Earth cable, or plain copper cables, go in the 'E' terminal.

    Refix the faceplate with the old fixing screws, at some time in the past they changed from imperial to metric threads, so best use the old screws, having gently pushed the socket back into position, making sure not to trap the cables with the face plate, or the fixing lugs.

    Plug the lamp back in and replace the fuse...

    All should now be well.

    One other bit of free advice, have a look about at the different sockets, noting the quality of build. 'MK' is a brand name and they are pretty OK, some of the imported sockets are a bit naff.

    Need any more help? Just ask.
  4. Buster Bloodblister

    Buster Bloodblister New Member

    It could be Swarfega as I have used this before as a lubricant to get cables through awkward conduit ect
  5. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Thank you.
    John, Old Engineer and Buster Bloodblister for your replies.

    Old Engineer,

    The house was built around 1963. In 1987 we had all new socket faceplates,light switches, ceiling roses, extra spur sockets fitted, all Crabtree, and a Wylex split load CU, all fitted By an Electrician.

    I have been around all the sockets in the house and found Four with the same fault,all on the down stairs original ring. Now this is the weird bit, I checked the CU and found the same green stuff in there around the down stairs ring fuse.

    At first as John said I thought it was wallpaper paste Until I checked the CU and found it in there, no wallpaper in the CU cupboard.

    The whole house seems totally dry. The faulty sockets are spread all over the ground floor. I'm totally confused by it all.

    Thank you Old Engineer for any help you are able to give.
  6. cleeve555

    cleeve555 New Member

    As per the above posts it could be washing up liquid that was used to pull through new cables just to the affected sockets. If you wipe it way does it come back?
  7. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Thanks Cleeve555,

    I have only just cleaned it so I don't know yet, It wasn't east to clean, with the power off I had to use White spirit and it still left a stain on the wall.

  8. daddy_sparky

    daddy_sparky New Member

    Sounds like you could have faulty cable. The liquid will be the plasticiser in the cable breaking down. It was a faulty batch of cable manufactured in the sixties. The insulation levels between conductors will be compromised and the only cure is rewire of any affected circuits.
  9. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Thank you daddy sparky.

    I will have a word with some neighbours to see if they have the same problem there are a few houses built at the same time.

    Thank you.

  10. JasonP

    JasonP New Member

    I have encountered this a lot on some sites wired during the copper shortage. (That and copper plated aluminium conductors).

    From what I can gather it is an reaction to an additive that was added to the pvc insulation mix during manufacture during this period. i believe the problem was caused by an anti-oxidant added to the mix. This produces over time a green slime at all terminations of these cables. While I have been told it doesn't effect the electrical properties I have found it fouls switchgear most noticeably MCB's. These I usually replace.
    and when I have done this I have worn disposable gloves to avoid skin contact as a precaution.

    The only know method of solving this is unfortunately a re-wire.

    As a not this additive was only added for a short period and modern cables do not suffer from this problem.

    Hope this helps.
  11. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Thank you JasonP,

    It's nice to know what is actually going on with the wires.
    I have spent all morning trying to decide which way to go with it, new switchgear or rewire. Thanks again for your help.

  12. JasonP

    JasonP New Member

    Well some clients have me change the damaged accessories. However from experience it's only a short term measure as it will recur.

    If the stuff has got into any safety devices such as MCB's, RCD's or RCBO's then I usually condemn them on site as the mechanisms usually get slowed down so safe disconnection times cannot be guaranteed.
  13. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Thanks JasonP,

    I think now I have had chance to think about it I would agree with you, you are just putting off the inevitable.

    The thing I can't understand is, why it's only on the downstairs ring, does that mean I only have to rewire that circuit or would you advise a complete rewire?

    Thank you for taking the time for your replies.

  14. supersparky

    supersparky New Member

    If you can see green slime or goo (di-octyl phthalate). Around 1973, cables were improved to include an anti-oxidant but the side effect was that this produced green slime around electrical fittings. It's not dangerous but unsightly and most householders want this resolved.
    --taken straight from the niceic news releses section--
  15. gillie

    gillie New Member

    Thank you Supersparky,

    It's nice to know it's proper name, I still hate it though.


  16. supersparky

    supersparky New Member

    yea it sounds like a pain in the ***, but anyway if you di decide to re-wire do the whole lot because it will be simpler than if you have a mix and match of different cable ages
  17. professional

    professional Member

    the green pigmentation is caused by corrosion of the copper conductor forming cuprous oxide.
  18. supersparky

    supersparky New Member

    professional, you seem to be ansering alot of ancent questions mate. ;)

  19. Pirelli

    Pirelli New Member

    Something I dug up from my files:

    Green exudate from PVC

    Draft BCA statement (April 2001)

    1) PVC

    PVC comes in two main grades, plasticised and unplasticised PVC.

    Unplasticised PVC (UPVC) is used for example in double glazing window frames where a rigid material is required.

    The PVC used for manufacture of cables is a plasticised PVC that conforms to the relevant British Standard for the cable type in question.

    2) Ageing effects

    As a cable ages (at temperatures above normal ambient) the elongation to break decreases (also the Insulation Resistance increases). The life expectancy of a cable is arbitrarily considered to be when the elongation to break of the PVC is 50%.
    A lower elongation to break value could be considered suitable especially for a fixed wiring cable. Therefore, providing the cable is not subject to movement or when moved due to inspection of socket outlet or the like, the PVC does not crack, a much lower value of elongation to break is considered by some as suitable.

    3) Greening

    Greening is the appearance of a wet green substance that is a product of an adverse reaction between certain types of plasticiser and the copper conductors. This greening, which is a rare occurrence, can happen either after a long period of time for some cables, or if the cable has been severely overheated.
    The plasticiser itself is a clear oily liquid that is non conductive. The green substance is a combination of copper oxide and plasticiser which may become conductive under certain adverse conditions.

    4) Action if Greening is found

    Therefore whenever this green substance is found at socket outlets etc. initially it should be removed and the terminations cleaned (gloves should be used) otherwise it is possible that tracking/overheating may occur. It is strongly recommended that rewiring should be carried out as soon as possible.

    If further information is required, the original cable manufacturer should be contacted.

    A bit technical but answers the question.
  20. xipetotec

    xipetotec New Member

    Beware of the BLOB

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