What would cause HDMI surge? Port & connector melted

I have a Samsung LN52A630M1F television. I had some techncians at the house today to change my cable & internet service provider.
While plugging the HDMI cable from the DVR into the TV, fire shot out of the HDMI port 1. The technician's finger was blackened, but he was okay. The port and cable connector are melted. The TV and DVR will not power on.

<div>What would cause this type of failure?

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You need a forensics expert.

The big clue is the TV was off so I'd look at what is new for the prime suspects. Frankly this is either a defect in the new gear or a miswired AC system.

I'd have an electician check the house plugs and wiring.

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Thanks Bob.

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Good to read.


All bets are off as without that the live and neutral can swap.

You solved the mystery.

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Live & neutral swap?

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But I used terms your electrical contractor might use. This being a worldwide forum I have to remember that the words differ from here to there.

Your answer about the ungrounded outlet was all I needed to read and nod that you found the issue. It's YOUR CHOICE to continue with such a system but today's gear may tie neutral and ground together. should help you catch on to what's going on.

Sorry but I can't fit a course on house wiring here but you found the cause. It does not matter about the prior it worked before till now. It only matters that the system finally caused an event.


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Not necessary

For what it's worth, I don't require a course on house wiring. I am fairly well versed on NEC code, have experience with residential wiring, and design telecommunications systems for a living, so I don't think that you're talking over my head. Also, I live in the US, so I'm understanding your English just fine.

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Given your reply.

I think you know how it could happen. Some gear tied neutral to ground and all you need is to flip the 2 prong over and one system is live to ground the other is neutral to ground.

Since many ports (not just HDMI) have the outer shield tied to ground, sparks will fly.

That neutral to ground solution was removed decades ago for reasons you have shared in your posts.

But, and this is a big one you will encounter clients that will not accept that this is no longer acceptable (neutral to ground.) And in the USA you have no choice but to walk away from these systems since the liability is far too high.

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I hear you

I understand your point, but in my specific instance, the DVR was not plugged in yet.

<div>Even if it had been powered up, the TV plug is grounded and the DVR plug is the style that has the line and neutral spades are different sizes, so as to prevent this type of rolling situation.
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Then you have to find the path.

All I have to work with is here. But the moment you wrote that magic word about the mains, I knew.

Sadly I wonder how many times folk have to experience this till they fix it.

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I appreciate your input & will investigate the polarity of the outlet back to the breaker.

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Ground or reversed polarity do not do damage.

Ungrounded or swapped polarity would not cause sparks. But you have posted many 'issues'. Let's start with no safety ground on the receptacle.

How does that exist if all three wires (white, black, and bare copper) are connected to the receptacle as required by code? Or with 1943 vintage wires not completely replaced? Then the receptacle must be powered by a GFCI. And include a label that reads, "No Equipment Ground". This not necessary for transistor safety. But absolutely critical to human safety.

If I read correctly, sparks came when an HDMI port was disconnected. To create that spark means protection/isolation inside some appliance (TV or other end of the HDMI cable) has been compromised. May have created other damage. AC electric is connected somehow to HDMI connector. Maybe the shield? That is both a human safety and transistor safety issue.

Breakers do not and must never trip due to a surge. Any protector that trips due to a surge was grossly undersized - a potential house fire.

If a protector was too close to a TV and too far from earth ground, then it did no protection. May have made TV and other damage easier. Damage even to appliances powered by the same circuit (but not plugged into that power strip). Read its numeric specs. Protector does not even claim to do protection.

No appliance need be powered on to be connected directly to a surge. Why would millimeters gap inside a power switch stop what three miles of sky could not?

A surge typically enters on AC mains. 'Incoming' to every appliance. Which appliances are damaged? Surge is hunting destructively to earth. Any appliance connected to cable or telephone would be a best 'outgoing' connection to earth. Because cable TV and telephone wires already have the best earthed protection. Both an incoming and outgoing path must exist - electricity as taught in elementary school science.

An AC mains surge seeking earth ground will often destroy cable TV and telephone appliance because that surge was permitted (by you) to be inside. Damage could explain why protection/isolation inside appliances is now a short circuit. Most important here: you have damage because you permitted a surge to hunt for earth destructively via appliances. Maybe utility wires entering without first connecting to single point earth ground. Either that energy dissipates harmlessly outside. Or goes hunting destructively inside. If an earthed 'whole house' protector is not on the breaker box (or behind the electric meter), then you have all but invited surges to go hunting.

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Not necessarily

The first clue there was trouble brewing was the 2 prong outlets. I've lost count of the problems that has caused.

While it should never be an issue with 2 prong devices, it's a safe bet the 3rd prong was defeated somewhere. and the setup manuals clearly show a 3 prong system.

All bets are off here.

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This just happened to me!

I know this is an old thread but I had to share.

We moved to a different house that was made in the 40's as well. The cable guy came out and installed the cable and only the TV was plugged into the surge protector, I unplugged everything else and moved the TV stand forward so he could get back there and drill the hole to pull the cable through. He hooked the HDMI into the box and then into the TV and then hooked the coaxial into the box and when he did it tripped the breaker box and shut off the outlet the surge protector was plugged into. Except I didn't know yet that the breaker tripped so I switched surge protectors to see if that was it and it wasn't, so then I check the box and voila. So I come back and switched the surge protector back to the previous one and when I went to plug the TV in I heard a huge jolt of electricity run across the TV and the POP! my HDMI catches fire and melts itself to the TV. The electricians came out and checked the outlets, they are all new and grounded right and both surge protectors are working properly and grounded right. I should also make note that when it set the HDMI on fire and popped it did not trip the surge protectors or the breaker box. So they came and swapped Cable boxes and it hasn't done the same thing but now I'm out a $900 TV. Supposedly they are making a claim for me and going to have an assessment team come out and decide if they are going to cut me a check for the TV but that could be months.

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Oh yeah

Let me mention again through that whole ordeal NOTHING else was plugged in, the only thing that got plugged in was the TV. My brother assumes the voltage coming through the coaxial had no where to ground itself and found that spot on the other end of the HDMI. What I want to know is why the universe hates me so much and couldn't have chose that spot on the end of the HDMI where the cable box is, then I would still have a TV and just a freaking fried box. Eeehh C'est la vie.

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Problem is a faulty DVR

I repair TVs for several manufacturers and have worked for the cable company as a tech.

If this had happened during a storm and lighting stuck the ground, I would say that the exterior cable box had a surge and passed the power, via coax, from the DVR to the TV via HDMI. HDMI is a highway for electrical charges.

Since that's not the case, there was a faulty or poorly designed power board on the DVR and it was pushing voltage through to the HDMI port. It could have been a polarity problem, before plugging something into a power outlet, I check for proper polarity on the plug. I have seen it be wrong before!

Next time, plug the HDMI into the DVR then you can discharge the HDMI cable by touching it to the + slde of a rechargeable battery. Then plug it into the TV.

Remember to use coax and power line surge protectors.

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I too just had my TV destroyed by a DVR -

I recently had the HDMI port and Main Board on my Samsung Plasma blow up when I connected a refurbished DVR to my TV that Directv sent me.
I am hoping someone can shed some light on this for me, I will try and type a short version of what occurred.
First things first, the electrical wiring in the house was recently upgraded, within that last 2-3 years I believe. I have a Samsung 50" Plasma that I've never experienced any issues with (I understand over time normal wear and tear can occur, I'm just pointing out that there have never been issues prior to this).
I had the Directv cabling and equipment upgraded less than a year ago.
I have had a surge protector connected to the wall outlet since I moved back home, with my TV and some other electronics connected to it including an HP all in one desktop.
About a month and a half ago the HD DVR I had upgraded less than 8 months prior, suddenly had a hard drive crash. Nothing else was affected just the DVR.
I contacted directv and had to pay $22 shipping for a "replacement DVR" which turns out, all their equipment is refurbished and they don't send out "New" equipment. Anyhow, when the replacement DVR arrived I went about setting it up per usual.
About 5 days later out of nowhere, the circuit breaker is tripped in the house. I unplugged everything, went down to the box reset the breaker, etc...etc..
I went to plug my TV and DVR in and BOOM, breaker tripped again. Followed same routine as above but this time I disconnected the TV from the DVR entirely and plugged my TV into the outlet, it powered on normally, no issues whatsoever. So I powered it down, unplugged it and reattached the DVR. When I went to plug the DVR in all of a sudden, circuit breaker tripped again but this time I saw a poof of smoke, the wires from the DVR to my TV were melted and when I unplugged everything in a panic and reset the breaker I decided to let my TV sit for a few hours before checking to see if my gut feeling would be wrong but sure enough, several hours later after making sure the DVR was disconnected from the TV entirely again, I plugged my TV in and it was fried Sad
Keep in mind, the only time the circuit breaker tripped was when the DVR was plugged in!
I contacted Samsung to have a tech come out and check out the damage and also had to tweet on Directv's twitter page to get someone to contact me because miraculously I always get disconnected when on hold for 30+ minutes when calling Directv.
Samsung tech came the other day, opened up the back of the TV and the Main board on my plasma was fried, there was black burns right where the HDMI ports are and it was determined that the Main Board would need to be replaced but there was no guarantee that there wouldn't be more damage uncovered once the main board was replaced.
I submitted everything to the Directv claims department and of course within a day they send this kid here to "check the damage" no problem, I expected that.
When he arrived this afternoon I opened the door and let him in, but asked "where are your tools? Didn't you say you needed to see the damage?" I did send them the pictures the Samsung tech took when he was here with the claim information but it didn't make a whole lot of sense that the guy would show up with just his smartphone to evaluate $1000 in damage.
After snapping picture of the back of the TV which clearly shows diddly squat unless the back cover is removed, he asked to see the outlet. No problem. Plugs in his little $1 Home Depot outlet checking thing and says "your outlet is no good". Basically, screw you, Direct is going to weasel their way out of this one way or another....
I calmly said, okay, but the DVR is what kept causing the circuit to trip and explained the process of elimination I did before I made the fatal mistake of reconnecting the DVR to my fully functioning, non problematic TV that powered up just fine with the stupid DVR. As expected, "Well, I don't know what to tell you but your outlet is no good". Trying to keep myself composed while knowing this would inevitably leave me holding the $1000 bag.
Why they sent some ding bat here without anything but a smartphone pissed me off enough as I had to pay for a real tech to actual open the back of the TV to see the damage clearly was caused from the connection to the DVR where the HDMI port is. Moving on....
Here's what I am curious about, and I'm not being rude but please understand I'm a bit frustrated right now and don't want someone to tell me to take an electricians 101 course. I've been working on computers and electronics for over a dozen years but have a very specific question for someone who is knowledgable about electrical wiring.
With all the details I've provided above, and the fact that nothing else was damaged or triggered the circuit breaker but the DVR, the damage to the TV clearly shows that there was some sort of surge that ran through the HDMI cable connected both the DVR and to the TV's main board which is fried. CAN the DVR have been the cause of the damage to my TV and furthermore could the fault in the DVR have cause whatever issues to the outlet/wiring the kid with his camera phone said was "no good"?
I greatly appreciate any advice as I'm 35 seconds away from blowing my lid!
Thanks Happy

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Please don't bury new discussions in old posts.
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Testing outlet

Hi, I saw this thread was quite old but figured I'd give it a whirl as I was looking for answers.
I used a MultiMeter to check the outlet and everything was normal. I plan on grabbing one of those small outlet testers though.
I did quite a bit of thinking about this especially after the Directv "Tech" showed up with nothing but a camera phone, no tools to evaluate the actual damage which I've had 2 Samsung techs clearly state that it is a direct result of the DVR as the damage to the Main Board is literally where the HDMI port is. The power supply on my TV is fine, which indicates that regardless of whether there is some underlying electrical wiring issue, the DVR was the direct cause of "blowing up" my plasma. Especially when you factor in that my TV was fine when I plugged it in without the DVR attached, didn't trigger the circuit breaker and until I reconnected the DVR and then the crap hit the fan.
As you can imagine I'm less than thrilled about this entire situation but find it even more infuriating that Directv sent out a random guy with no technical experience, who didn't even open the TV to inspect the damage and point the finger at the wall outlet. As I expected, Directv will do whatever they can to try and pass the buck and claim that it was NOT the DVR but a faulty plug. Yet again, everything clearly points to the DVR being the trigger and not a single electronic including my desktop which was also plugged into the same outlet had any damage whatsoever.
So, having said all that, combined with my research and the facts I've stated, had the DVR not been plugged into my TV, it would still be operating per usual. I am not sure what was faulty in the DVR as I had to mail it back or they would charge me $175 (give or take a few dollars).
If, by chance, there is something out of the norm with the wall outlet, but the only trigger was the DVR, wouldn't it still be Directv's responsibility and covered under the 90 warranty especially seeing as it was only 5 days after I received the DVR?

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I don't expect DirectTV or Samsung to ...

Both of those support systems are not house electricians. So I can see why no one will tackle this one directly. That is, it's up to the home owner to get that checked out.

Sorry but I don't mean to upset you but hopefully you see why a multimeter is not good enough for this issue. If the hot and neutral was swapped, a multimeter may not tell you it was incorrect.

PS. This thread is more than 764 days old. Be sure if you want replied from the Ambassador you post a new discussion.

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Okay, I understand. It was worth a shot right! Wink
Thanks Bob!

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