Troubleshooting the cause of an outlet not working can help define how to repair it. This is a guide about repairing an electric outlet.
Here are questions related to Repairing an Electric Outlet.
Why won't the breaker trip, but if you play with the plug it starts working again?
By Stephanie 02/18/2015
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.
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 Bruce S01/26/2015
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.
I have no power to one kitchen power outlet and one living room outlet. The circuit breaker appears good.
By Louise B. 10/10/2013
Call an electrician. They go to school and train to be able to solve problems like this.
The Christmas lights on my house are not working, but have for past 3 weeks. I took an extension cord and moved it to the front porch and plugged it in. When I did that the refrigerator and freezer in garage quit working. I hit all the breakers, but there was no change. I pressed the trippers inside and outside of the house and still nothing. Any ideas how to fix this?
James, you said your breaker is not tripping, but if your resetting your main breaker to get things working again, that means it is tripping. This is one problem you should call a professional for, because it could be one or more many different things.
1. Bad main or sub main depending on panel style.
2. overloaded main or sub main breaker.
3. bad terminations in panel.
4. main bus failing in breaker panel.
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.
Let me guess Louise B has a husband or son who is an electrician.
I moved into a house built in 1995. There is a GFCI outlet in the bathroom that will not stay on. When you press the reset button, the outlet stays on for about 5 seconds and then the breaker trips. I've replaced the GFCI outlet with the same results. Any advice would be appreciated. It's a 15 amp outlet.
By merlene smith 01/19/2011
I know a family that got annoyed because the power surge protector kept tripping so they bypassed it and their house burned down. Be careful something like that is not going on with your house. Have you consulted an electrician? Somethings need expert advice and I think electrical problems is probably one of these.
My outside outlet was working, then it rained and now none of my xmas decorations come on. Does anyone have any ideas on what might have happened?
By jlyn 12/19/2010
My back porch has an outlet that always trips when I was down the porch. There is an outlet in my garage that has a little breaker on it and i just have to press the button.
I have 2 outlets that are in separate bathrooms. Both have power, but neither one will run a hair dryer or hot iron. They will power a radio. Has anybody seen this before or have any suggestions?
By gbk 10/18/2011
Older places with old wiring is very dangerous. Sounds like old set up. You didn't say how old the place was you lived but a lot of even l950's houses now have bad wiring. An electrician or a friend who knows about wiring is a good thing here because the advice we can give without seeing is worth absolutely nothing. But you just might want to think on this; don't wait and burn the house down.
I have a breaker in my house that has a "test" button on it. It tripped and won't reset. I have checked and the only thing in my house that doesn't have electricity is one outlet in our bathroom. I replaced the outlet, but it still doesn't have electricity and the "test" breaker won't reset, it just keeps on tripping.
By Brent P.
By gbk 07/19/2011
Oh by the way I forgot one of the problems was one of the ground fault plugs on the outside was getting moisture inside and tripping the button in the kitchen. The carport, back door, bathroom, front porch lite, and plugin, and the living room and utility room was all on same circuit.
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 Louise B. 03/07/2015
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.
All of the electrical outlets in one room stopped working at the same time. They are standard outlets so there is no reset button on them. The breaker is not tripped so what else could be the problem? Someone mentioned a possible blown fuse so how would you look for that to change it?
By Elisha S
By Louise B. 07/02/2013
I agree with the previous posters. If you have tried flipping the breakers on and off -- and sometimes they do not look like they have flipped off -- and that doesn't work, you need to call an electrician. If you have breakers, you will not have fuses. Any "loose wires" or anything like could cause fires or other problems.
All the outlets in one room stopped working, the lights still come on. I replaced the breaker and all the outlets and it's still not working. Help me.
By Frugal Sunnie 04/11/2013
Because you've replaced all of the outlets, and the breaker, yet still have having electrical problems, it's safe to say that you have broken wires inside the walls on the circuits that are showing continued problems. The breaker you replaced may not be feeding the problem circuits, did you carefully 'map' your circuits before attempting a fix? The following link takes you to an excellent DIY site with extensive home electrical info, this page teaches you how to map your circuits:
I think, though, that at this point you need to get a licensed-bonded-insured professional electrician in there as soon as possible. Broken wires in a wall are a terrible fire hazard.
A professional has insurance (in case he/she makes serious mistakes and causes damage), and several tools in his/her kit that most homeowners don't even know exist-one of those tools is an electronic, battery operated hand-held device that detects 'live' current travel through most wall covering materials including plaster and lathe. This device will quickly discover the location of broken (or chewed, rodents in the walls happen in the best of homes:) wires so that the exact location can be found and the correct repair made. This saves tearing up long swathes of wall to find the bad wires, for one thing-a real savings right there that makes the cost of having a professional actually quite cost-effective.
Until you have a safe, correct and total fix, the safest thing to do is cut the power to the areas you are having problems with. Please do it now no matter how inconvenient because a house fire is the ultimate in 'inconvenient' you can experience!
Please update us when you have this sorted. It's always great to know when another family has been saved from the dangers of a house fire, and it's a valuable bit of information to add to the knowledge base.
I plugged my heater into an outlet; now the outlet doesn't work. I replaced the outlet, but still doesn't work. Two other outlets in the room work and the light works. It didn't knock out the breaker. What could be wrong? Please help.
By Deb from Wheeling, WV
By deb 02/22/2011
Well, my husband got the outlet working. what happen is i wanted to put a fan it the room with light so my husband took down old fan with no light. so it is bx wiring so there was no box so he put in a metal box so what we were reading on bx wiring it needs to have a bx clamp to secure it so he put clamp on. and put fan back up and everything is working now. I bought a book on old wiring and that is what help us thanks to all. :O)
I have some Christmas lights hooked up to an outdoor outlet. I live on the ground floor of a condo and have a patio off the living room. The outdoor outlet is covered, it is under my upstairs neighbor's terrace.
The Christmas lights were connected to the outdoor outlet via a indoor rated extension cord, not outdoor, without a third prong for grounding. I ran four strands of lights in a row to circle the perimeter of the patio.
I had the lights on and was hosing down some plants across the patio, behind which the lights were strung. Some water splashed on the lights and they all blew. Ever since the outdoor outlet does not work. I flipped the breaker and hit the reset button on the outlet. No luck.
I know the story I just conveyed above illustrates a total ignorance for electricity and probably careless and even reckless behavior on my part of using an indoor non grounded extension cord and having the good sense to water the plants with the lights on. Before I potentially do anything to kill myself or cause a fire is there anything else I can do before calling an electrician?
Thanks so much for your advice.
By Biz from Brooklyn, NY
By Biz 09/12/2010
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I will start with replacing the outlet. Thanks.
Why is my electric outlet getting hot?
By Teresa from Louisville, Ky
By Judy = Oklahoma 08/20/2010
We live in a house built in the 1970s with aluminum wiring-which is a big fire hazard because it can start fires in the wall or ceiling that you don't know about until it spreads, a house in our neighborhood burned down a couple of years ago from an electrical fire caused by aluminum wiring! We have occasionally over the years had a couple of outlets that feel hot to the touch, especially one in the kitchen, sometimes I've even smelled it "burning". My husband would replace the outlet & some of the wiring. The last time, when he checked the one in the kitchen because I could smell it(nobody else has ever smelled it), the wire had burned through the plastic on the outlet & was on the verge of starting a fire in the wall! He rewired that outlet all the way back to the main wiring in the attic & we haven't had a problem since.
The house I grew up in was built in 1890s & had same problem. My dad re-wired the whole house. That's what needs to be done with our house, but my husband isn't comfortable with doing it & electrician said it would be around $6000,which we can't afford. We just watch our outlets, don't overload & occasionally I will go around & feel them, especially the one's that have something plugged into them.
Just beware if you have an older home with wiring like this, it can be very dangerous, houses burn down from this problem all the time.
I need to know how to fix hot/ground reverse on electrical wiring for home.
jenniferl from Silversprings, FL
By kay 06/09/2009
I just need the diagram so my husband can fix anything on it because we can't afford a mechanic. Thank, Angelheart
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?
By lynnc 
By Louise B. 08/24/2015
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.
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 Louise B. 03/14/2015
Thanks for this great explanation, Bruce. And the best advice you gave was "call an electrician". Home electrical repairs are not something that untrained people should be tackling.
I've been using the same outlet for 3 years now to charge my laptop. All of a sudden the outlet doesn't work. So, I plugged my laptop into another outlet. It worked briefly, but now it doesn't work. How do I know what is wrong and how do I fix it? The breakers are not tripping.
By Sandra D
By Rita Horne 03/10/2014
Check the outlet by plugging something other than your laptop. If the outlet is working, you probably need to check the power cord supply for the laptop. They do get old and wear out.
I changed our wall outlet plug in our 2nd floor bedroom from a two prong to a three prong and now I don't have power to my closet. The outlet has two hot wires, two neutrals, and two grounds. All of the wiring was stacked up on the two prong plug. I've tried various configurations to remedy the problem; however, none of them seem to work. I am able to get power to this particular outlet, but I still cannot restore power to my closet.
By Antwan from MO
Ditto with zoodad! Please have an electrician take care of this because the wiring as it is now could also be a fire hazard! :-(
I have a touch lamp that previously worked in my daughters' bedroom. It went out so I had a new switch put in from a lamp repair shop. Now it works in every outlet except the 2 upstairs bedrooms! Other things work in the outlets (iPod dock, video monitor cameras, sewing machine), but the lamp doesn't! It's so strange because the lamp works in other rooms in the house. Any thoughts on this?
By Melody F 
By Bruce S08/20/2015
The touch switch works on capacitance of the human body interfering with the electric field set up by the control box inside the lamp.
Human capacitance can vary with surroundings, causing the lamp to work in some rooms and not in others.
The sensitivity of the switch can usually be adjusted. I would start by returning to the lamp repair shop and asking for the switch to be made more sensitive because it is not always working.
I woke up this morning and plugged in the blender like I do every morning and night. However today it wouldn't work so, I switched it to an outlet on a different wall and it worked. I noticed the GFI light was red, this is a newer house (2-year-old), so I have never had this problem before. I tried to fix it by unplugging everything and then pushed the GFI button in and it clicked, but it is still red. So I flipped the breaker and it is still red what should I try next? Thank you so much for any help.
By Deanna S 
By Bruce S08/18/2015
There is no standard on the red light. It could mean everything is okay. However, if there is no power, then push the test and then the reset. If nothing changes...
Check other receptacles in the vicinity that are not GFCI and unplug their loads. (It could be they are fed from the GFCI in question). Then go back to the GFCI and push the test and reset.
If still no luck, hire an electrician to change the GFCI.
I arced three wires in my light, the three connected. Now 1 plug in works and 1 doesn't.
By Bruce S05/06/2015
If the light is plugged in the wall and had no wall switch, have an electrician come to install a new receptacle. Receptacles are cheap. In the process of changing the receptacles, he/she will have to unwire the old and wire the new so the integrity of the connections will be verified.
If the light is plugged in the wall and has a wall switch, have an electrician come to check power at the receptacle and switch. Receptacles and switches are cheap. I suspect the switch is bad (which would be indicated by no power to half of receptacle with the switch on). In the process of changing the receptacle or switch, he/she will have to unwire the old and wire the new so the integrity of the connections will be verified.
It would be helpful to identify which breaker the circuit is on, so that it can be shut off while the work is done.
I changed one outlet in my daughter's bedroom and turned the breaker off first. After turning the breaker on, the outlet works, but now there is one in another bedroom and one in her bedroom that don't work. I tried turning the breaker off and on again and the two outlets that I didn't touch are still not working.
By Bruce S04/27/2015
I am glad you killed power at the breaker before working on this system. This always needs to be done. I hope you also metered it before working to make sure power was gone.
It is standard practice for multiple items like this to be on one circuit. A 2 conductor cable consists of a black insulated, white insulated and bare wire. My guess is this enclosure had two such cables in it. One cable providing power to this box and the other carrying the power on to the next. To install a receptacle, pigtails (short piece of wire) are often run from the hot (black) neutral (white) and ground (bare) to the receptacle. This makes changing the receptacle easier.
What may have happened is moving the connection under the wire nut, either black or white wire connections, caused the circuit to be broken. The wire nuts need to be removed and re-installed or replaced.
An electrician can fix this for you.
I have a wall of outlets that are not working, but when I put a meter on them it shows they are getting power. I changed one outlet, but still not working.
By Bruce S04/08/2015
A common way of checking power is with a non-contact volt meter. It will show the presence of 120 VAC hot.
However, to make a circuit you also need the neutral. If you have the hot, but lost the neutral, it would act as you describe.
The neutral and the ground should be bonded (connected) at only one point, typically your power panel.
With the power off, an electrician could use a meter to determine if there is continuity between the neutral and ground. If there is, your neutral is good.
There are a number of ways to lose a neutral
- Run a nail through it hanging a picture
- Overload a bad connection causing it to overheat and burn open
- Rodent chewing through wire
- Human error when wiring - did not connect neutral
- Human error when wiring - switched neutral instead of hot
-Human error when wiring - GFCI wiring switched (hot and neutral reversed)
You may want to look to see if a GFCI is tripped. If it is and you reset it and you have power again, you will need to get an electrician to correct the GFCI wiring.
I can put a plug into the outlet, but any movement of the cords and they pop out. Any kind of plug in air freshener will hang partially out. It's like a loose outlet that doesn't want to hold onto anything.
By Cheryl from Cameron Park, CA
By Bruce S03/31/2015
Receptacles wear out with use and need to be replaced.
An outlet in a circuit is not working and the other outlets are also not working as a result. What is the problem?
By Bruce S03/27/2015
Unplug everything from the receptacles on that circuit.
Is the breaker reset? To reset a breaker, switch off then on.
The receptacles may be grouped on an AFCI or GFCI receptacle. Look for a receptacle that is one of these and needs to be reset and reset it.
If this all fails, then it could be the electrical wiring which would require an electrician to correct. Either an open hot or neutral could cause this (often bad connection at wire nut).
One day while my wife was doing laundry the dryer just stopped working. Assuming the dryer was fubar we went out and purchased another dryer. When we plugged it in, it too would not turn on. Now there is a new breaker and when I plug it in almost all the way and put my multimeter on each terminal I get power in only 2 of the openings. At the third I only get about 25 volts. Could the outlet be shot or did my new breaker (30 amp 2 pole) shoot the bed?
By Louise B. 01/21/2015
Jim, you seem to have basic knowledge of electricity, so I think you should try googling for information. Try to find some sites or some Youtube videos specifically about electrical issues.
My bathroom had one switch that turned on the lights and the fan. I replaced the switch with a double-toggle style switch so the lights and fan could be turned on separately. I can't get the switch to work on the lights or the fan now. The outlets still work. I checked the breakers and every GFCI and nothing was thrown. What do I do to fix this issue?
By Louise B. 11/24/2014
This is not the site to get help for this problem, as a general rule. Try googling for specific electrical information if you think you can fix this yourself. However, do remember that electrical mistakes can cause fires in your house. Me - I'd call an electrician, since it isn't working correctly, and you think you did it right. Perhaps you know someone who is more familiar with this sort of repair who would help you, as it should have been a very simple repair job, and it has turned out not to be.
The plugs worked in the bedroom and we changed them all out even some in other parts of the house. Now all the ones in bedroom stopped working. The rest of house plugs and lights work.
By Louise B. 11/09/2014
Call an electrician.
Plug in won't work on one side of living room.
By Chris from Danville, VA
You can buy a plug in tester at Home Depot or any big box hardware store that has lights on it to indicate a short, open, open ground, etc. That is the best way (they come in 2 or 3 prong, depending if you have a grounded system) or it may be as simple as a loose screw.
Turn off the breaker. Take the cover off, and the 2 screws holding the plug. Pull it out and visually check it. Tighten the screws, or replace the plug, insuring you have the wires in the same position on the new plug. Turn the breaker back on and test again.
Or the problem may be in a connection on one of the other plugs on the circuit. Follow the same pocedure as above. Always testing the non working plug after checking connections on the other plugs.
I have one outlet in the bedroom that stopped working. I reset all the GFI switches and replaced the outlet, but still no power. Any suggestions?
By Tyrone from Brandywine, MD
By Louise B. 09/29/2014
Call an electrician.
I bought a George Forman grill. My outlet is melting everytime I use it. I love my grill. What can I do?
By Michele from Detroit, MI
By Pixiedust7 08/21/2014
I'm not an expert, but what is happening is not good! There may be a problem with the grill itself, such as drawing too much electricity, or the outlet might be old or damaged. The outlet also might be on a circuit that already has too much plugged into it. You have to watch the wattage of your appliances and other items, and stay under the load limits of your circuit. Most houses seem to have 15-amp circuits, which means you should stay under 1500 watts total on that circuit. There should be a circuit breaker that trips and cuts the power when there's too much draw on the circuit, and if this hasn't happened, there's something wrong. In addition, your kitchen and bathroom outlets should be GFCI outlets (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters), which have their own, built-in circuit breakers. These can prevent shorts and electrocutions because you're always around water in bathrooms and kitchens.
You should really have a professional electrician check your outlet and your circuits, because you are in danger of having a fire. Also have someone test the grill, but I don't think you should use it until you get the other things checked. Don't take chances! The life you save may be your own.
I have a GFCI kitchen outlet that water got into and was tripped. It is connected to 3 other kitchen outlets that are not working as a result of the water. My husband replaced the GFCI outlet (a green light is on), but none of the outlets will work. Does anyone have suggestions. Thank you.
By April 01/17/2014
Did you also check the breaker box as well?
My parents moved into an older home and the outlets in an extra bedroom all worked until a month ago. Using a multimeter, I am not able to get a reading on any of the outlets. (Using an non contact probe, I got a hot read on the outlets). The only reading that I get is when I place one of probes in the hot and one in the ground. The light in the room is working fine and is on the same circuit. I replaced all of the outlets this afternoon, but it didn't work. I did notice that the neutral wires were attached opposite of the hot wires, but I am not sure if that matters. Another thing that I noticed was at the panel. On the neutral bar, in a few places, there is more than 1 neutral wire in a few of the slots. I am not sure what I should do next, other than have them call in an electrician.
By Phillip C.
By Louise B. 12/31/2013
I've never noticed any electricians giving advice on here. Better call one in.
I walked into the bedroom and my oscillating fan turned on by itself when it was totally in the off position, turned back off by itself, and then turned back on. I unplugged the fan and puzzled as why the fan did this. Could it be a problem with the outlet or a power surge?
By Janie 08/29/2013
It is possible that your remote for the fan is hidden and is touching something around it. Check when it turns on or off. You may be sitting on it.
I installed an outlet off of a light switch and it only gets power when I switch off the lights. Please help.
By Louise B. 08/20/2013
Well, you have the wires connected incorrectly. I suggest you find someone who knows how to do this to come and fix the problem. If you do not know a home handyman who can help you, call an electrician. Hopefully, all you have is the wires switched about, but you may have live wires attached to something else like the metal box, since you don't know how to fix this yourself.
My outlet in the bathroom has a plug and light switch in one. The plug would not hold anything in it, but the light switch worked. We replaced it with a brand new one and the only thing that worked was the plug; the light switch wouldn't work. So I took the new one off and put the old one back on. It's not working at all now. What happened and how do I fix it?
By melissa k
By Louise B. 07/29/2013
Call an electrician; you need to have someone fix this for you that knows what they are doing.
Why are none of my electrical outlets working in my bathrooms in my home?
By Frugal Sunnie 05/31/2013
Have you checked the circuit breakers either at the box or at the GFI outlets in your bathrooms? It sounds as though something has caused an overload and made the breakers flip. This is an important safety feature meant to prevent electrical fires.
Check the breakers and then make sure people aren't overloading the bathroom circuits with too many high wattage appliances. Hair dryer+curling irons or rollers+electric shaver and toothbrushes chargers+a space heater-all plugged in at the same time (!) is a common sight in more bathrooms than people think, and is the usual cause of overload.
You can reset the breakers but if they flip again it means something is causing repeated overloads. If you're sure it's not the result of too many things plugged in at the same time, you'll need a licensed, insured professional to come in and check those wires to make sure the overload isn't the result of broken wires inside the wall.
Otherwise you're looking at a very serious fire hazard-overloads from what ever cause lead to devastating home fires.
How do I fix an electrical overload?
By Frugal Sunnie 02/11/2013
WARNING - overloaded electrical circuits present serious fire hazards. Additionally, DIY home electrical work can present or create personal safety hazards. Know and follow the safety rules. Better yet, hire a professional-most insurance will not pay out if you have overloaded a circuit or had work done by an unlicensed electrician.
The following is an extremely simplified answer but should get you started; the best thing to do is to first learn about home electrical systems from library and Internet sites like:
http://electrical.about.com/ (There are other sites, run a search)
Now, look in your circuit box to determine the whole house amp load from the information listed in the box. Next, check to see if the individual circuit breakers list the load-some will be 120v with a load of 1500w total, others will be 240v for things like stoves, AC/heating, and clothes dryers. Then follow the steps below .
Step One - Get a note pad and pencil. List the circuit you are overloading (should be listed in the circuit box); you will also be making additional notes, see Step Three.
Step Two - unplug everything on the overloaded circuit.
Step Three - re-plug one item and wait for a few minutes. If the one item doesn't throw the breaker, note the wattage/amp (should be on the plug or a tag on the cord) and move on to Step Four
Step Four - continue adding one electrical item and noting the wattage/amp.
My washer is plugged into its own GFI plug and everytime the washer starts to fill up the GFI keeps popping. It's got its own place in the main breaker, but that doesn't pop or need to be reset. What can I do?
My husband is a home builder. One of the most common warranty issues he has is replacing gfi's. They are surely made in the bad part of China and often go bad. My advice is to find a handyman or electrician to replace the gfi. You can buy them at the big box cheap enough - that way all you have to do is pay labor and will not get charged so much. Get help to make sure that you get the right one.
The breaker will not kick. To make things simple for me, my husband explained that the gfi is like an outlet and surge protector in one with it's own tiny breaker inside. They are required to use them near wet areas. When there is a surge the gfi "kicks off" and must be reset.
I have an outlet that has a switch and a light that shows when it is turned on. The light is turning on, but anything plugged in doesn't work.
By Frugal Sunnie 10/21/2012
It sounds as though one of the wires leading to the outlet is pulled away, worn, broken, or frayed. It is still making a connection but not a connection sufficient to supply full power to any item plugged into it.
Two solutions to this one (remove the outlet plate and have a look, OR call in a trained, licensed professional) but FIRST: shut down the breaker to that circuit NOW and leave it off until the problem is sorted. The pulled away/worn/broken/frayed wiring is generating enough electricity to start a fire.
Next, decide if you want to give this a go yourself, or if you are going to call in a licensed professional. If it is simply a pulled away wire you may be able to remove the outlet plate and tighten the wire yourself. HOWEVER if you feel a lack of confidence, do call in a pro-better to be safe than sorry!
Additionally, using a professional will satisfy your insurance company should anything happen, and if you are a renter you may have landlord issues to consider. *If you are renting, call the landlord. He/she may have an electrician on call, or may have the skills to do the work. Very few responsible landlords want you doing the work as it may affect their insurance and/or other legal responsibilities.
DIY electrical work is a DIY job best left to people with some training and experience, and there are a lot of very good books available in your local library to help you learn. The Reader's Digest books are excellent as a starting point and you may decide to add a copy to your home library. The books cover just about every sort of home maintenance job there is. Local community colleges and adult education programmes also offer courses with certificates upon completion.
I moved into a private rented flat today. When I turned on the shower to wash the shower room down and it blew all my sockets, but it hasn't tripped it out on the main board. I have reset the main board, but still nothing is happening. Any ideas what it could be, please anyone? Thanks.
By Frugal Sunnie 10/01/2012
Telephone the landlord NOW and ask them to have a professional come in to check the 'on-demand' water heater to the shower-it sounds as though the wiring is wrong on that feature.
Whilst awaiting the service call engineer, do not use any of your electricals on any circuit you think may share with the shower room, and be alert to any electrical overheating (burning plastic smells or a metallic 'tang' in the air). Feel for 'hot spots' along the walls, outlets, and at the mains box-CAREFULLY to avoid burns or shocks.
I think you got very lucky. When I lived in Guatemala (mid-90s) a co-worker was electrocuted in her shower because of faulty wiring in the on-demand shower feature.
Be sure to write down the date and time of the telephone conversation, and what the landlord promised he/she would do to remedy this extremely dangerous situation. You may need the information to prove that you made contact, and to recoup any out of pocket costs associated-for example, if your landlord does not act quickly to repair this you may have to take a hotel room until it is done, or even move out completely should the landlord prove unwilling to sort this immediately.
I plugged an extension cord in my bedroom for a pool pump and now none of the power works in that room and none of the breakers are tripped. Could it be a bad breaker?
Could be a bad breaker, could be that your bedroom outlets are tied into a GFCI circuit. Check the bathroom GFCI outlets for a reset button, could even be on a different floor of your house. BTW, if that is on a GFCI outlet then I guess it is okay to run your pump off that outlet, however, you have already learned that it is drawing way too much power from that circuit. If that is not a GFCI circuit, then you really should not be running a pool pump from it as you risk possibly electrocuting your swimmers if some sort of short occurs.
How do you fix a faulty outlet? One of the outlets in our house is easily jostled which will make everything plugged into the power strip go off. This could be as simple as walking by it or if the cord is moved the slightest bit. Last night I tried the lower outlet and I heard crackling and could see a spark inside. The top one works better, but you have to make sure all the cords are held up so that it stays in the right spot in the outlet.
I am worried this could be a fire hazard. If I just change the outlet out for a new one, would this fix the problem? Maybe the wires have come lose?
By StellaBell from Manchester, WA
By LittleNana-3 03/29/2012
There's a site called "Instructables" that is excellent for any household repairs or do it yourself projects. I use it all the time and a friend of mine used it to learn how to install laminate flooring. It's very detailed and has great pictures.
That said, changing the outlet is easy. Turn off your power! Then all you do is unscrew the cover, unscrew the outlet from the wall box, unscrew the two connectors and replace the outlet with the new one by reversing all of this. If you ask the guys at the hardware store they can walk you through it. It's easy. You can do this or pay some guy $10 per outlet to do it for you.
My outlets in the kitchen are all out. The GFI surge protection outlet seems to work, when I push it the light goes out and when I trip it the light goes on. I also checked my circuit breaker and nothing looks tripped. I turned each one off and then back on. The outlets still don't work, any ideas?
By Dave 10/28/2011
First, GFI is not surge protection, it is to protect you in case of a Ground Fault and Interrupt the power so you don't become the path to ground and get electricuted. Second, the light indicates different things in different brands of gfi outlets, some mean it functioning and some mean it can no longer protect you and has locked out the power to protect you and needs to be replaced, which sounds like your problem. Replace it or have it replaced by a qualified electrician if you don't know how.
Could someone describe the trouble-shooting procedures you would use to repair a non working 120 volt electrical outlet that is in the middle of a wall with 5 other outlets?
By Gabriela1 from Romania
You truly need to be asking a professional electrician for this answer because electrical problems can cause a fire. :-(
My microwave trips the GFI. It never did this before. I changed the GFI, but it still does it.
My meter shows 220, but when I plug my cord in my new unit won't turn on. How can I find the problem? It's not the new unit.
A kitchen outlet was changed to a surge protection outlet with light indicator by a licensed electrician less than a year ago. The outlet will not work and the light indicator is still on. I hit the test and reset and finally the light went back on, but trying to use a toaster or electric can opener on this outlet will not work still. Could it be the circuit breaker even though the light indicator is on? I hate to have to shut off all the breakers and put it all back on due to it not being labeled. Could a wire inside have gotten loose? Any idea? I would hate to get charged a lot again when I had this done recently. I remember the electrician said it is tight in this box. Thanks
The outlets in the two main bathrooms seem to work for a while and then they seem not to work. No breakers are blown, I have made sure I reset all the breakers in the box. The lights work right next to these lights so there is power going to those rooms just not the outlets. They are none GFI plugs so I cannot reset at the plug. I have tested the powder room plug. I had a tester and accidentally hit the button on the tester and now cannot get that plug to work either. Please help.
The outlet is suddenly dead. The wiring all looks good.The hot wire is hot. I installed a new outlet, it won't work. Any ideas?
By S from southern CA
We recently redecorated our kitchen. In doing this we changed the positions of some of our plug sockets. These all work fine and have no problems. However, since doing this 4 different plug sockets in 2 separate rooms have stopped working.
We have tested the electrics and using the mains tester pushing straight down it shows no power, but when you angle it to the left and right it shows power, but nothing works once plugged in. Does anybody have any advice? Thanks in advance.
By Jon Rose
After an electrical outage, 3 outlets on 1 breaker servicing 2 TVs and a computer system (all with power bars) stopped working. I reset all breakers (none had kicked off), changed out the circuit breaker servicing the 3 outlets, tested voltage, all showed good. The house was built in 1980, there are no CFCI breakers. At times I can get the outlets to work with a small clock/radio, but as soon as I plug in anything requiring more amps (?) like a TV, all 3 outlets stop working. Ideas before I call an electrician?
By Doug B
I live in a 2 bedroom duplex. My wife plugged the vacuum in the master room and the room lost all power. The breaker was fine, the room itself doesn't have a a GFI, but all the ones where we have GFIs are fine. Any ideas before calling a electrician?
My gfci outlet is not working. The the top button is not tripped, the light is off and reset button will not work. It is only 1 year one old and installed by an electrician. Any ideas?
By Mary B.
My basement was refinished just before we bought the house. I'm pretty sure the previous owner did the work himself as there are so many problems. Several outlets seem to have the faceplate screwed just into the drywall, and are always falling off. Now one of the outlets has no faceplate and is popping way out of the wall. I don't know how to begin to fix this, but I'm pretty sure there must be a relatively easy way to do it?
By Amy from Louisville, KY
My mother has an enclosed porch and there are outlets on the wall of each side of the room. Neither of the outlets are working. My mother said she could have shut something off (last fall?), but I don't ever remember her shutting anything off before. This has never happened before. The porch is off the kitchen and we did have to hit the reset button because a fuse was blown early in the year. The microwave and toaster have to be used separately. It just seems strange to not have any of the porch outlets working. Each outlet has two spots to plug something in and none of them are working.
By Laurel P
The whole house has 15 Amp outlets; some with one or two #12 wires. I came across, while changing an outlet that this particular one has six #12 wires on a 15 Amp outlet. My new outlet doesn't has holes big enough to insert #12 wires. Can I use piggytail to use these six #12 wires on 4 side screws or for this purpose do I have to buy a 20 Amp outlet. Please help.
By hard worker from Auburn, WA
Two of my electrical outlets quit working. It didn't even throw breaker switch, but I did hear a click in the breaker panel.
I have a thirty amp circuit that seems to control the lighting and outlets on the attic level of my home. I also have the problem of outlets that are older and deteriorating badly, one of which came apart while being used and shorted out, but this didn't trip the breaker.
I shut off the breaker and replaced the outlet. When I re-energized the circuit the new outlet didn't work. The new outlet is 125/15amp CU only. It does not appear to be a wire going to the circuit.
Upon further inspection of the remaining outlets in the area, there are more than one that appear to not work. There are others that do work. I will attempt to replace one of these to get some kind of baseline. Do I need to call an electrician?
I am quite capable of replacing all of the outlets, but if there is no improvement I guess there is a wiring problem.
I have been researching and it seems that the thirty amp circuit controlling everything is not a good idea. I moved into the house ten years ago and it was that way then. I had the home inspected by a home inspector who didn't mention this as a problem.
Do you have knowledge about this guide topic? Feel free to share a solution!
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
Yesterday, both outlets in our master bathroom stopped working. I heard a pop from a radio that was plugged in at the time. No other lights or outlets appear to be affected. I reset every circuit breaker just to be sure, but that didn't help. The house was built in 1995 and is of good quality. I pulled out each outlet and put a multimeter across the leads to confirm the power loss.
Anyone have any idea what the problem could be?
Maxx from Minneapolis
If there is power where the wire comes off the breaker, and it's white wire is solidly connected to the silver common bar, but now power shows at the leads connected to the outlet, then there must be a wire break somewhere in the wall. To find the break you need a tone tracer. They cost from $49 to $500, depending on how fancy you want them. I have used one of these since the early 80's: http://www.pimall.com/nais/e.tone.html
You clip the tone to a wire and ground, then follow the hidden cable with the wand. If you veer off, the volume of the sound from the wand speaker drops. When the sound stops completely, you have found the break in the wire. Make sure you turn all potentially related breakers off before cutting the cable at the break, otherwise you will ruin a good pair of pliers.
Please keep in mind that you can not patch or re-connect a broken wire in the wall. That has to be done in a junction box or outlet box. Since you probably won't have any spare wire that you can pull towards the break, plan on using a two-gang or three-gang box and box cover, or dual or triple outlets. That gives you enough room to connect a short piece of wire on each side of the break.Have FUN! DearWebby (11/28/2005)
Thanks for the input. It turned out that a GFI outlet (in another bathroom) just needed to be reset. I didn't realize that these were connected to each other. Live and learn.Cheers! (11/29/2005)
We have an outlet in our kitchen that we have used actively. The other day while popping some popcorn the outlet threw, sounding like the breaker going off, however when I got to the box nothing was thrown and now this outlet doesn't work. Any ideas?
Stephanie from BC
First I would check the breakers and turn all of them off and back on. Sometimes they pop without showing it. That's when most electricians dig out a box of Q-tips and thoroughly clean the breaker box, to justify the traveling time to the service call.
If that is not the problem, it gets more difficult. Without taking the outlet out, it is impossible to diagnose. It could be the outlet, or it could be one of the wires going to the outlet. Most likely it is one of the wires going to the outlet and showing a visible break in it.
If there is no noticeable break, even when the outlet is pulled out and the wires wiggled with a wooden spoon to feel for a break within the insulation, then it will be necessary to use a volt meter or a voltage tester from the Dollar store to check for the presence of electricity. If there is no electricity between the black and white wires, but there is between the output end of that breaker and the block of white wires, then the break is somewhere in the wall. In that case the break has to be pinpointed with a buzz or tone tester and repaired by an electrician. DearWebby (08/29/2005)
By Rose Mary B
Editor's Note: We sent this one to Dear Webby who has lots of electrical knowledge:
In this case I would highly recommend that he call an electrician. Anybody who calls the GROUNDED (white wire) a "neutral", should not be allowed near screwdrivers without competent supervision. Electricity can, and often does, kill, especially in wet and damp environments.
Most likely some wires are mixed up and touching a ground in a light fixture or mirror cabinet, creating a potentially deadly trap for non-electricians. If an amateur complicates that situation, it will just be that much more expensive. (09/05/2008)
For the last 3 years, the electrical outlets in my 1/2 bath (1st floor) and 2nd bath (2nd floor) have not worked. This occurred around the same time that I was replacing the standard outlets in my home with updated decorator ones where you can't see the screws. Any help would be appreciated.
Out of nowhere, one outlet in the bedroom stopped working. All the other outlets in the room are okay. I checked the circuit breaker box, and none appear to be tripped. Just in case, I flipped all of them to no avail. What could have happened, and what should we do? Thanks!
I thought I had tripped the circuit breaker after turning on the TV, stereo, Satellite receiver all at the same time.
After putting up our outdoor Christmas lights the power went out to that outlet. The circuit breaker did not trip and we do not have any GFI outlets to reset. What do we do?