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Electrical Wire and Cable

No Power to Electrical Outlet

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Repair an Electrical Outlet that has Lost Power: I have an electrical outlet that has no power.

Outlet Power Problem

Electrical Question: I have an electrical outlet that has no power.

  1. I traced the electrical line to the attic where I found a junction box.
  2. The white wire goes to another white wire connection and the black wire was capped off with a wire nut.
  3.  I took the wire nut off of the black wire and connected it to other other black wires in the junction box.
  4. When I did that it shorted out the other lines in the junction box. I believe this box is on its own circuit.
  5. I know it is the last one in the line because the outlet only has two wires.
  6. Could the electrician possibly have connected the wires backwards?

This electrical question came from: Lon, a Homeowner from Smyrna, North Carolina.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Lon.

How to Repair an Electric Outlet that has Lost Power

Application: Lost Power to an Outlet.
Skill Level: Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester or Volt Ohm Meter.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and age of the electrical wiring and the access to the circuits and wiring to be evaluated.
Precaution: This is a project that should be performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor and typically requires specific tests of the electrical circuits.
Notice: Repairs to Home Electrical Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes and installing new or replacement electrical parts or equipment may require a permit and inspections.

Why an Outlet May Have Lost Power

Focusing on this specific electrical question and the events that have occurred that have lead to this condition of lost power to the outlets.

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MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC: Lost Power to Outlet, Outlets Stopped Working

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7 Responses to “No Power to Electrical Outlet”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Gail,
    Thanks for you kind reply. Sometime in the very near future it would be good to identify the circuit problem and have it resolved. As for the smoke detectors, they are required by NEC code to be hardwired and have battery backup. Be sure to have battery operated smoke detectors in the home, and consider them to be a high priority installation for your protection.
    Be Safe,

  2. GAIL says:

    Hi Dave~

    Thank you for all your help. A neighbor came out and found 95 volts on BOTH neutrals. I didn’t change the outlet because it had any issues, it was just old, but after changing it, bad things.

    Anyway, he found that the SMOKE ALARM was drawing power to the neutral. When he disconnected the wires, the power restored.

    Another fault was in one neutral white wire that went from the adjacent outlet to the fuse panel. Somewhere in between there was also an open on one neutral side.

    So, all good now except we didn’t find where the neutral was broken or open but he rigged it so things are fine and put new switches in.

    I am happy that you also commented and tried to help. Thank you very much.
    God Bless and so much for SMOKE ALARMS! I only thought they had a battery in them and didn’t know they were physically wired to our house!

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Gail,
    From what you have described the problem is not with the outlet, but another electrical problem with your home electrical system. Possibly the reason you decided to replaced the outlet was because the power was not working at that location? However you have since discovered that power to half of the house is not working right. Your description of what has happened before may be repeating itself, as these are the symptoms of a problem at the circuit breaker panel where a connection has been lost due to a faulty component or defective circuit breaker. This problem is best identified when a Qualified Electrician performs voltage readings and visual inspections of the electrical panel and the components, and then makes an assessment of the repairs that are required to restore the home to full power.

  4. GAIL says:

    Hi Dave. Okay, this might help. The 2 white wires were ORIGINALLY connected to the silver screws. I remember that for sure, and the 2 black wires were connected to each of the brass screws. I don’t think its controlled by a wall switch. however, when I set my VOLTAGE METER TO ALTERNATING CURRENT and put one black lead from meter in big bottom hole and red lead into SMALLER HOLE(SLIT) on right side of outlet, I get 120 volts. Same on the bottom.

    However, when I place the black meter lead in big hole (ON EITHER OUTLET) and the red lead to bigger slit on top, I GET 95 VOLTS. I get 95 volts on the other one, too, top and bottom..both look like faces.
    WHY IS THIS so? I reconnected the wires to new outlet (once again) but still get the same. Half the house not working. No lights in hall, bedroom, bathroom and other hallway. PLEASE HELP. I checked the circuit breakers. I remember a similar thing happened years ago and it was the CIRCUIT breaker. It did not trip but was part melted onto the bar inside circuit panel box.

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Gail,
    From what you have described it is possible that the wiring to the new replacement outlet was not connected the same as the with the original outlet, and it is very possible that the original outlet may have been configured as a half-hot outlet, which means that one of the two outlets on the receptacle was controlled by a wall switch. In many cases the wires used to feed power to a wall switch were not specifically identified, therefore instead of a white wire being used for the neutral, it was used for power. Now the electrical codes required proper identification of wires used for switching.
    So, how does your situation get resolved? The practical knowledge of home circuits and how to use a voltage tester will be extremely helpful, and then applying that to the devices in your home that do not work. Notably, a residential electrician is best qualified to solve this problem. The end result will be discovering what the original wiring connections were before the replacement receptacle was installed. Which leads me to ask why the original outlet was replaced in the first place? The answer to that question may have a lot to do with the current problem. When troubleshooting an electrical problem it is very helpful to work the problem back to the beginning, and that alone will reveal the problem.
    I hope this helps you.

  6. GAIL says:

    I replaced one outlet in our living room. When I put the new one in it would not work. There were 2 WHITE WIRES I put each one on each silver screw. The other 2 BLACK separate wires I put on each brass screw and connected to ground. Still no power. I tried another NEW OUTLET and still will not work.

    MY NEIGHBOR said 120 volts is going to the circuit breakers and all breakers are good in the fuse panel on the wall. He tested all the wires inside the outlet, and discovered that NO POWER is going to the black or white wires. I did not touch or work on anything in the house and no GFCI is tripped.
    ALSO, the hallway lite won’t work. The bathroom lights, and my bedroom lights, the TV is on same breaker and works. It is like half the house doesn’t light up. I have one SWITCH switch in my bedroom that turns everything on in that one room. Nothing works in that room either.
    PLEASE HELP. I am good with electrical meters.

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