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Repairing an Electric Outlet

Troubleshooting the cause of an outlet not working can help define how to repair it. This is a guide about repairing an electric outlet.

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Man fixing and electrical outlet
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June 12, 2016 Flag
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We removed a closet from our bedroom. It turned into a nightmare. First the walls were of plaster with the wire mesh for the corners. While removing the wire mesh we cut into a tiny red wire in the ceiling. It made an outlet not work. However this outlet is run by the closet light. If the light is on the outlet works, but if it is off it does not work.

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I believe this tiny red wire being cut is responsible for this because the light did not have to be turned on before this tiny red wire was cut. This tiny red wire was buried into the plaster and we cannot find where it goes. Any suggestions on making this red wire dead? I am fine with having the switch on to run the outlet.

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    March 7, 2016 Flag
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    We have two power outlets in the kitchen that stopped working. Our home is older so the outlet doesn't have a "reset" or GIF. We have an old fuse box, not breakers. We had work done in the kitchen and we noticed the problem happened after the granite installers installed the granite back splash. The outlets they cut around stopped working.

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    I did hear power tools being used so I am wondering if they blew the fuse. We tried the, un-screw of the fuses and put everything back in, fix. We do have some fuses that seem to be under a glass cage that we could not really open or are scared to. We are not sure if we are to open this part or not. Anyway any suggestions or explanations to get this fixed would be greatly appreciated. I am trying to avoid making a service call if it is an easy fix I may be overlooking.

    Thanks

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      March 20, 20160 found this helpful

      I would call the people who did the work first. They obviously did something wrong. Do it right away in case you need to pay to have it fixed. The bill should go to their company. Good luck.

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      February 16, 2015 Flag
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      Why won't the breaker trip, but if you play with the plug it starts working again?

      By Nick

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      February 18, 20150 found this helpful
      Best Answer

      The breaker would only trip if too much current is being pulled (demand exceeds supply). If you have a loose outlet, where the plug falls out or you have to wiggle the plug to get it to work, it wouldn't necessarily trip the breaker, because it's not connecting/pulling electricity at all. The solution is to replace the old outlet. If the issue is a particular appliances plug and wiggling the cord fixes the problem, than the cord is probably going. If the problem is a particular plug and not the cord, sometimes you can widen the prongs so it's a better fit in the outlet.

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      January 25, 2015 Flag
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      My phone charger was plugged into the wall outlet. It stopped charging and made a popping sound. I moved the cord a little and there was a spark. I was scared to unplug it, but I did eventually. My cord is now plugged into my laptop and is working. What is the problem?

      By cara

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      January 26, 20150 found this helpful
      Best Answer

      You have a hot to ground short. From what you described it may be in your phone charger transformer. This could easily cause a fire and should be corrected by a professional.

      If you are certain that the sparks came from the phone adapter, get rid of that phone adapter. If the sparks may have originated in the receptacle, get an electrician to service and replace the receptacle.

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      November 2, 2015 Flag
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      For about two months now, in the master bedroom, 2 of the outlets which have the TV and cable box connected and also the light in the room go out and come back on. I have checked the breaker and it doesn't trip. One of the times that it went off, it stayed off for a few minutes. When went off I moved the light switch to turn it off and the lights came on. I switched the light fixture for a new one and it's still doing it. Besides checking the other outlets for loose wires any suggesting on what to check?

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        November 4, 20150 found this helpful

        Breakers and switches, when shut off or tripped, stay off.

        Checking for loose connections is what is required.

        If your power is shutting off and turning back on it sounds like a loose connection somewhere (maybe inside a device such as a switch or breaker but more typically in a wire nut or the neutral connection in the power panel).

        Loose connections are heat generators. I would have an electrician track this down as soon as possible.

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        October 25, 2015 Flag
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        I have had a non working plug in our bathroom with a working light for years. We recently had a lot of work done, including rewiring the kitchen. The contractor replaced the fixture in the bathroom during the renovation. The new fixture works like the old one. Light works, plug does not. Any idea what the issue is, and is it an easy fix? Thank you in advance.

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          October 26, 20150 found this helpful

          Unfortunately, he's out of the country. Even when he's around, he's hard to get hold of. When the work was being done, I told my mother to have him do it, unsure as to whether it was her error for leaving out the electrical issue and he assumed I just wanted a new one for aesthetic purposes.

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          January 26, 2016 Flag
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          We live in an apartment building built in the 1970s, maybe 80s. My daughter had an inexpensive fan in her room that would slow down and then it just stopped working.
          I bought a new fan and it worked okay and then it did the same thing. I would turn it on and it wouldn't work, then it sounded like something gave it gas, and it would slowly start to propel.

          Last night it worked and then stopped. I jiggled the cord, unplugged the light, and the fan, and it worked then stopped. So afraid a fire or a weird wire is the culprit I moved to a different outlet and it worked fine. How do I know what is going on with the outlet, and are we in danger? Is it just the voltage to that one outlet?
          The landlord is a super pain to deal with.
          Thank you.

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            February 1, 20160 found this helpful

            This is probably one for an electrician to handle since they have the meters and test equipment necessary to test the voltage at your receptacle.

            It is possible you have a loose connection that when heated with current flow, opens or better closes the circuit.

            Or it is possible that this receptacle is on a shared neutral in which the neutral is not making it back to the panel. If this were the case, the speed of your fan and even whether it was working would depend on other electrical loads being on.

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            January 17, 2016 Flag
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            I have a problem here that I was hoping you could help me with. 1 of the 2 receptacles isn't working, in my kitchen, 1 outlet with 2 plugins. I tried changing the whole outlet, but that didn't help. It can't be the breaker as the other plugin is still working.

            Please help

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              January 18, 20160 found this helpful

              A duplex receptacle has a bridge between the two neutral slots (tall ones) and a bridge between the two hot slots (short ones) and the grounds are tied together internally. It would be difficult for one to be working without the other unless a bridge was cut. (Bridges are cut to make one receptacle switched on a duplex receptacle).

              An electrician could fix this for you.

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              January 15, 2016 Flag
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              One of my bedroom sockets is going off and not tripping. Two of my livingroom ones just cut off and then they come back on a few hours later. Weird.

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                January 18, 20160 found this helpful

                It sounds like a loose connection in your household wiring. Your wiring is metal, most likely copper (maybe aluminum). A loose connection generates heat causing the metal to expand. This can cause the circuit to open. Once open the connection cools down and the circuit closes again. I would hire an electrician to verify the connections are tight in the devices you mentioned.

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                August 21, 2015 Flag
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                We have a plug in our kitchen that is a switch for our undercabinet lighting on one side and on the other side is a plug. The plug has suddenly stopped working, even though the light switch is working fine. The breaker is also working fine. We have changed the plug, but it is still not working. Any ideas as to what else we could try?

                Thanks!

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                  August 24, 20150 found this helpful

                  I like Bruce's first line of advice-- call an electrician. Bruce is an electrician, and can explain these things, but nothing beats having a trained professional fix things for you.

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                  December 8, 2015 Flag
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                  I put my outdoor Xmas lights up the day after Thanksgiving. I have them connected to the GFCI plate we've used every year. The first connection is a solar sensor and then thru an extension with multiple plug-ins. It is the same setup as years past. Last evening they stopped working. Today I tried removing 2 strings of lights, which were attached end to end from the main extension cord. I also have four other strings connected end to end from the main extension cord. Removing the first two I mentioned worked, for about 4 or five hours before the GFCI outlet went out again. The power to the outlet is still there, but it won't stop tripping. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

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                    December 9, 20150 found this helpful

                    Electricity works on a loop. Current flows out on the hot and back on the neutral. A standard breaker trips when the flow in the loop is too great. A GFCI trips when the current flowing out exceeds the current flow returning by 4 to 6 milliamps (.004 to .006 amps). It is assumed this small current could be flowing through a person so the GFCI trips.

                    The current that is leaking is taking an alternate path back to the ground in your panel. Often this is caused by wet locations. The closer you are to the ground of your panel and what it is bonded to (typically a water pipe), the easier it is to trip a GFCI. So if your lights are wrapped around your water spigot, it would be easy to trip the GFCI.

                    Lighting strings do not typically have a ground pin, so the current flow from the hot back to your panel would have to be through the neutral (desirable) or the earth (maybe to a water pipe) (undesirable).

                    Another concern is your sensor. If it has a ground pin and is plugged in outside, and moisture getting in the unit could be providing a path between the hot and ground pin which would trip the GFCI. Make sure the sensor is rated for outdoor use and is in good condition.

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                    February 23, 2015 Flag
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                    My wife pluged a Vicks vapor machine into our bedroom outlet. The outlet stopped working. The the vapor machine and my ceiling fan with lights also quit working. I put in a new plug and checked the wiring in the fan. All the wires are connected and there are no burn spots on the wires. How do I fix it?

                    By Kris

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                    March 7, 20150 found this helpful

                    Did you check the breaker? And did you mean that the vaporizer now doesn't work at all? If so, toss it, as it has caused the problem, apparently. If there is nothing else to reset - breaker, button on an outlet, fuse - then it is time to call an electrician. Perhaps the problem is with the replacement outlet, and you have not installed that properly.

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                    October 27, 2015 Flag
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                    The outlet for my cook top and fan is not working, but the breaker is fine. I checked the voltage between phase to neutral and it was 20V. I checked the phase to ground- 120V.
                    What's my problem? Is it the connection of the neutral in the panel or what?

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                      October 28, 20150 found this helpful

                      If not qualified, I would recommend getting an electrician to resolve the issue.

                      It sounds as though the neutral connection is open somewhere. Yes, it could be at the panel. It could also be at an electrical box between the stove and the panel.

                      A digital meter is precise, but does not load the circuit. A meter such as a Wiggy is less precise but loads the circuit and it is more obvious that the neutral is open.

                      With the breaker off, an electrician will check for continuity (zero resistance) between the neutral and ground (these are bonded in your panel).

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                      September 27, 2015 Flag
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                      My plug sockets stopped working. There was no bang or odd noises. I checked the circuit breaker, but nothing was tripped. I have unplugged everything then re-booted it, but nothing! My lights are working though. I need some help please.

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                        September 28, 20150 found this helpful

                        The most common cause of outlets failing would be a tripped breaker in your power panel. You have correctly troubleshot the situation by unplugging the connected devices and turning the breaker off then on to reset it. Still, no luck.

                        The second leading cause of receptacles failing would be a tripped GFCI or AFCI receptacle. One receptacle tripping can take out a whole host of receptacles. Look to see if you have any such receptacles (with a test and reset button) . If that receptacle has no power, try resetting it and hopefully power will restore to the others as well.

                        It is possible the power for these receptacles have a switch. This hidden switch could be turned off (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation).

                        After that you are entering an area best left to an electrician. Something has opened the circuit. Wiring could have overheated and burnt open. A rodent could have chewed through the wire. A breaker could have failed. In a multiple occupancy dwelling (duplex, apartment ...) it is possible another tenant could have opened the circuit from their side of the wall. All of these situations require the knowledge and equipment an electrician would supply.

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                        March 14, 2014 Flag
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                        I changed two wall outlets, just replacing dirty ones. I did them exactly as they were taken off, but both won't work? Not sure what it could be. It has a red, white, and black wire.

                        By Tracy

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                        October 8, 20140 found this helpful

                        Let me guess Louise B has a husband or son who is an electrician.

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