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Repairing an Electric Outlet

Category Electrical
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 3, 20171 found this helpful

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.

Electrical Outlet

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January 3, 20171 found this helpful

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.

Electrical outlet with a green cord plugged in.

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June 30, 20170 found this helpful

If you have an electrical outlet that is popping or making crackling noises, you should have an electrical service it as soon as possible. This situation is highly dangerous and could result in a house fire. This is a guide about outlet making crackling popping noise.

Outlet Making Crackling Popping Noise

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

If your Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is not working, you may need to contact an electrician to repair it. This is a guide about GFCI outlets not working.

Black cord plugged into a GFCI Outlet

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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

It is extremely frustrating trying to determine why a GFCI breaker in your home won't reset after tripping. There are a few common reasons this might occur and you will want to pursue the possibilities until you identify the cause.

Close up of a GFCI Circuit Breaker.

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January 31, 20170 found this helpful

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

GFCI Outlet

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January 3, 20170 found this helpful

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.

Outdoor Electrical Outlet

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January 3, 20170 found this helpful

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.

Electric Outlet

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
December 5, 2016

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
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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February 16, 20150 found this helpful

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, 20150 found this helpful

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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October 8, 20131 found this helpful

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

The person to call is called an Electrician.

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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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March 14, 20140 found this helpful

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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March 16, 20140 found this helpful

Call Home Depot and ask to talk to someone in the electrical dept. Those people at Home Depot have helped me out many times.

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March 16, 20140 found this helpful

Did you check your fuse box - perhaps you threw a breaker?

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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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October 8, 20140 found this helpful

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

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October 14, 20110 found this helpful

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 David

Answers

Anonymous
October 17, 20110 found this helpful

I'll venture to bet that you need larger amp circuit breaker(s). You're simply running too many watts for the size the breaker(s) can handle and especially if more than one room are on the same circuit. Every light fixture, fan, radio, clock, etc. add wattage and heat type appliances pull a lot of watts. They all add up.

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October 17, 20110 found this helpful

What I know about this is next to nothing, however, I have heard that sometimes outlets in bathrooms were installed to only power appliances with a small draw, such as a electric razor or a radio. I suspect that that is the type of outlet you have since you have two of them, and they are both in bathrooms. I have seen such outlets labeled "for razor only". This is a safety feature. I do not know if it is the breaker or the kind of outlet. I think you need to consult an electrician.

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October 17, 20110 found this helpful

Have you considered talking to an Electrician?

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October 18, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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March 24, 20150 found this helpful

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 24, 20150 found this helpful

It may be that these devices are fed from an AFCI or GFCI receptacle which is tripped.

It may be that the breaker did not reset.

It may be that the breaker is bad.

It may be that the wiring is incorrect. Black is supposed to be hot white neutral and bare or green a non current carrying ground, but not everyone wires that way. Is the black wire hot? Is there continuity between neutral (white) and ground (bare or green)?

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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 28, 20150 found this helpful

If you know something about electrical, Bruce has given good suggestions. However, I suspect that you should call an electrician. Far too many people think that home wiring is a job for the home handyman, and sadly, most times it is not. You have no guarantees that the previous person who dealt with your wiring knew what they were doing, so there may be all sorts of issues that you have uncovered.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 23, 2008

I need to know how to fix hot/ground reverse on electrical wiring for home.

jenniferl from Silversprings, FL

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

We need more info to possibly answer your question. Is it just an outlet that is wired wrong? You could fix that yourself.

Or,if it is at your fuse box/electrical panel, that would require a licensed electrician. The answer will be according to what the actual problem is. ~Richard

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 27, 20080 found this helpful

If you gotta ask, then it's best and safest if you get an electrician to correct the problem.

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

I just need the diagram so my husband can fix anything on it because we can't afford a mechanic. Thank, Angelheart

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By 0 found this helpful
March 18, 2017

I replaced the outlet above OTR microwave and now the microwave does not turn on. My microwave does work when plugged into another outlet nearby so probably not the fuse. I did double check the connections to ensure hot and white are connected to the correct side along with the ground. All are secured tightly to eliminate the possibility of a loose connection. It is a brand new outlet and I checked for flipped circuit at control panel and nothing there. I did replace all outlets and light switches in my kitchen and all work except the one above microwave? Please help.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 19, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
June 26, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
March 7, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
November 2, 2015

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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By 0 found this helpful
October 25, 2015

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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March 10, 20150 found this helpful

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

Answers

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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March 14, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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March 7, 20140 found this helpful

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

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March 9, 20140 found this helpful

Try plugging in something other than your laptop into the outlet. If it works okay, you need to have the power supply cord to your laptop checked. They do sometimes wear out.

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March 10, 20140 found this helpful

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.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 7, 2010

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

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September 7, 20100 found this helpful

Why was there a ground wire to a 2 wire outlet? Usually only a hot and neutral are at a 2 wire recept. Not sure what you mean by stacked, 2 wires under each screw? One set should be the line, the other a load-the wires to the rest of the closet. I would get an electrician with proper tools to sort out what you have.

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Anonymous
September 10, 20100 found this helpful

Ditto with zoodad! Please have an electrician take care of this because the wiring as it is now could also be a fire hazard! :-(

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By 0 found this helpful
June 12, 2016

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.

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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By 0 found this helpful
January 26, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
January 17, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
January 15, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
October 27, 2015

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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By 0 found this helpful
August 18, 2015

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?

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By 0 found this helpful
August 16, 2015

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.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 5, 2015

I arced three wires in my light, the three connected. Now 1 plug in works and 1 doesn't.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 25, 2015

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.

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April 27, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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April 8, 20150 found this helpful

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 Terri

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April 8, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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March 30, 20150 found this helpful

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

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March 31, 20150 found this helpful

Receptacles wear out with use and need to be replaced.

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March 26, 20150 found this helpful

An outlet in a circuit is not working and the other outlets are also not working as a result. What is the problem?

By R

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March 27, 20150 found this helpful

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).

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January 15, 20150 found this helpful

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 Jim

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January 21, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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