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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Using Electrical Wire to Heat Metal


Hey Bob,

         I'm willing to bet this is one of the stranger questions you've been asked recently. Hopefully this doesn't count as Jury-Rigging. :)

First, a bit of context. I'm a screenwriter currently adapting a spy novel for the big screen. I was hoping you could help with a scene.

As briefly as possible, my Spy character is confined to a hotel room. To ensure no-one sneaks into the room, he tied dental floss (the only thing available in the room) to the door handle. The other end to his wrist. That way, as he sleeps, if anyone opens the door it will tug at his arm.

But for the story, someone needs to get into the room. My first thought is if the person outside could somehow heat the other side of the metal door handle hot enough, it could burn through the dental floss tied to the handle on the other side.

This is where my question comes in.

First of all, within the confines of movie logic, is this possible? Could heating one side effect (conduct to) the other side.

I have to take into account that the person trying to get in is acting on instinct so only has whatever might be in a hotel hallway at the time. So my thought is, they could cut the wire to a lamp and coil it to heat the metal handle. Would that work? Would it get hot enough to burn though the floss on the other side? If not, is there anything else that could be used?

I know this question is a bit out of left field but with the connection to Electrical Wiring I hoped it would still apply. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



I'll have to say this was the most unusual in the thousands of questions I have answered over the years.

The lamp wire would melt the insulation and catch fire or blow the fuse before it got hot. Although I guess the insulation on fire would heat the doorknob.

Is there some way he could use plain heat.  perhaps a cigarette lighter, an iron, or a plumber's torch? The heat would travel through the metal door know and burn the floss. Perhaps set the "do not disturb" sign on fire with a cigarette or a lighter?
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Bob Sponaugle


Just about any home wiring question. (not appliance repair) I have done all kinds of home wiring for myself, including adding a new breaker box, etc. Please, questions from North America only. Please be specific with details.

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