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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January 31, 2017 Flag

GFCI Outlet

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Determining the cause of a malfunctioning GFCI outlet may require some sleuthing. This is a guide about GFCI outlet keeps tripping.

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January 3, 2017 Flag

Electrical outlet with a green cord plugged in.

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This is a guide about outlets in one room don't work. Identifying the various circuits in a room can help you troubleshoot electrical problems when some outlets stop working.

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January 3, 2017 Flag

Electrical Outlet

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This is a guide about electrical outlet stopped working. Troubleshooting the reason an outlet has stopped working is the first step to your repair or replacement decision.

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January 3, 2017 Flag

Outdoor Electrical Outlet

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If you have an electrical outlet that doesn't work when it rains, it would be best to call an electrician. This is a guide about outdoor electrical outlet stopped working after it rained.

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January 3, 2017 Flag

Electric Outlet

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This is a guide about electric outlet feels hot. If your electrical outlet feels hot to the touch it would be best to turn off the breaker and call an electrician immediately.

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Questions

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December 5, 2016 Flag

We have just recently bought a repossessed house, all the plumbing and lights work fine. Everything in the kitchen works, but none of the plugs around the house do? Everything has been switched off for over twelve months and it is an old electric box so we are not sure where the fuse is to see if that needs changing?

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Anonymous Flag
December 8, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

You really need a modern box with safety cut-out switches. Don't try to do anything yourselves with this problem. Deterioration of old wiring after a year's non-use is very likely, and re-wiring is your only answer. You don't know how long this has been a problem - maybe more than a year - and I'd prefer to be on the safe side.

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September 19, 2016 Flag

I am trying to cut the power to an outlet and tried turning off by elimination each 15/20 amp circuit and the power remains on. Any ideas?

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September 19, 20160 found this helpful

If you only have one electrical panel (could you have a subpanel feeding this outlet?) and you have tried killing power on each circuit (I assume you checked the single pole breakers), and you are not generating electricity, then my guess is that a 240 volt circuit is feeding this outlet.

Another question is how did you check the circuit? A plug in tester is good, but even simpler is to have a load, such as a lamp, on the circuit. A digital multimeter will sometimes indicate voltage when no load is present.

Each leg of a 240 volt breaker carries 120 volt measured to the neutral and 240 volts measured to the other leg. It is possible that your receptacle is fed from a double pole breaker.

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February 16, 2015 Flag

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
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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

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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June 26, 2016 Flag

I live in a older home (1950s). I recently bumped a plug while moving furniture. I heard it make a couple of popping sounds, but nothing happened. The next morning that outlet and the ones in the next 2 rooms would not work either. The ceiling lights work fine. I turned off the power at the fuse box. I took the cover off the outlet and checked with a meter to make sure it was safe. I took out the outlet and found out one of the wires was broken. I don't plan on using that outlet anymore how can I just bypass it so that the outlets in the other rooms will start back working. Thanks.

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July 12, 20160 found this helpful

I would hire an electrician to fix this.

The receptacle can be removed and a cover plate installed but it would be about the same cost as replacing the receptacle.

The wiring broke free on its own so it is probable that it has experienced some heat damage from a loose connection that needs to be assessed.

Once the wire insulation has been repaired (I like heat shrink tubing for this) the wire can be reconnected and made to work.

Typically, and per code, black is hot and white is neutral. Connecting the blacks together and then connecting the whites together should energize the other receptacles. BUT - things are not always done correctly and the assumption that black is hot and white is neutral can cause trouble. This is why I would call an electrician.

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March 7, 2016 Flag

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.

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 think if you can afford granite counter tops, you can afford a qualified electrician for this job. You maybe should think about upgrading your electrical since you are renovating.

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October 8, 2013 Flag

I have no power to one kitchen power outlet and one living room outlet. The circuit breaker appears good.

By Peter

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October 10, 20130 found this helpful

Call an electrician. They go to school and train to be able to solve problems like this.

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November 2, 2015 Flag

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

This sounds dangerous to me. I would call an electrician to come check this out.

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October 25, 2015 Flag

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

Did you explain to the electrician you hired that the plug in had never worked. If so, and he didn`t fix it, call him back and ask him to fix it, and I would not expect him to charge you for this. If not, call him back and explain what is going on, and see if he can remedy the problem.

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March 24, 2015 Flag

I blew out an electrical outlet. I pulled on it and it blew taking out 4 other outlets. I replaced the blown outlet, but still all 5 outlets are out even after I reset the switch on the main box.

By Milton

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March 25, 20150 found this helpful

In the interest of not jeopardizing your home-owner insurance policy, please consider hiring an electrician?

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March 14, 2014 Flag

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

If it has red, white, black wires, sounds like a three way switch, and it should have a bare copper ground. You probably got the wrong switch.

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January 26, 2016 Flag

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

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

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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March 10, 2015 Flag

One of our light switches is faulty, sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. If we flip the switch off and on several times it will eventually turn the lights on and they will stay on. Many times the light turns on for a second and then turns off. If we do get the light to stay on and we plug anything in to the outlet, everything will turn off. It is not the fuse/circuit box. The outlet below the light switch (not controlled by the switch) sparks when we plug into or unplug from it.

By AndieR

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March 10, 20150 found this helpful

It could be a number of things and it would be good to have an electrician check this out. There is plenty of opportunity to be hurt or killed if you don't know what you are doing. The situation itself sounds dangerous enough.

Although the receptacle is not switched, it sound like it is on the same circuit (breaker or fuse).

The hot wire may enter the switch box and go to the switch and on to the receptacle. If so, the neutral wire would enter the box also and go on to the receptacle.

The connection in the box is usually made with a wire nut. If a loose connection exists, It could be the repeated cycling of the switch that allows contact to be made, by vibration, and power sent on to the receptacle. Loose connections are heat generators and the wires may show sign of overheating.

Plugging something in the receptacle may then overload the poor connection at the switch and open the circuit.

There also exists switches which provide not only a switched output but also an unswitched output to reduce connections in the box. The problem with this type of switch is that when it goes bad, all power is lost downstream. If you have a switch like this, I would be suspicious of it.

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October 27, 2015 Flag

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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Home and Garden Repair Home ElectricalJanuary 30, 2013
Guides
Electrical outlet with a green cord plugged in.
Outlets in One Room Don't Work
Electrical Outlet
Electrical Outlet Stopped Working
Outdoor Electrical Outlet
Outdoor Electrical Outlet Stopped Working After It Rained
GFCI Outlet
GFCI Outlet Keeps Tripping
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