Why Outlets Stop Working

By - Summary:

How to Identify and Repair Outlets: Outlet Problems and Solutions, The most common reason why residential home outlets stop working is due to a break down that occurs within the electrical circuit of the outlet.

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How to Troubleshoot Outlets that Lost Power

Electrical Question: I usually try to fix stuff before I call a pro, but this electrical outlet has got me stumped.

  • Someone plugged a hairdryer and a space heater into a standard duplex bathroom outlet at the same time, and the outlet stopped working.
  • The breaker didn’t trip.
  • Both the standard outlet and another GFI outlet next to it are not working.
  • These broken outlets share a breaker with 3 lights and a vent, which are still functional.
  • The bathroom also has a functioning GFI outlet, so we’re making due.
  • The broken GFI has 3 sets of wires going to it.
  • One wire pair reads 1.2 volts 60 Hz when the breaker is closed, but 2.4 volts 60 Hz when the breaker is open.
  • The other GFI wire pairs and the wire pair in the standard outlet have a minimal voltage on them.
  •  I can’t see much of the wiring, some of it is visible in the attic, but much is concealed in the walls.

Any ideas what happened?

This electrical wiring question came from: Elliot, a Homeowner from Winter Springs, Florida.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your Home Electrical question Elliot.

How to Identify and Repair Outlets

Application: Testing Outlet Circuit Wiring
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools a Voltage Tester or Plug-In Circuit Analyzer.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools, the extent of the electrical repairs, the number of outlets that are affected and access to each location.
Precaution: Identify the GFCI outlet circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.

Outlet Problems and Solutions

Problems that May Prevent Electrical Outlets to Stop Working and Where to Look

  • The most common reason why residential home outlets stop working is due to a break down that occurs within the electrical circuit of the outlet.
  • Most typically it is found that a wire connection that is made in or onto one of the outlets that is a part of the circuit has deteriorated to the point of burning apart from the connection.
  • Some of the connections that are burnt apart were incorrect wiring additions to the existing circuit, or the push-in connections to the back of a receptacle outlet overheat and finally let go.
  • This is very typical when high consuming devices are used such as space heaters.
  • I may also be discovered that the GFI outlet has been affected and may require replacement.

More about Electrical Outlets

Bathroom Electrical Wiring

Electrical Outlet Wiring

  • Wiring Electrical Outlet for the Home
  • Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.

Wiring a GFI
Wiring Diagram GFI

  • The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.

Circuit breaker

  • Electrical Wiring Protection using Circuit Breakers
  • A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.

Electrical wire

  • Electrical Wire for the Home
  • Complete listing of electrical wire types and parts used for home projects with electrical code information serves as selection guidelines.

For more information about Outlet Wiring
How to Install Electrical Outlets
Outlet Wiring

  • Wiring Electrical Outlets
  • Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Wiring Electrical Outlets with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
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120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
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Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
Troubleshooting and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
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» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
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One Response to “Why Outlets Stop Working”
  1. Peter says:

    I like electrical wiring and I’ve learned a lot from your website and blog. As an electrician, I think it’s always good to learn more and keep current with the electrical troubleshooting methods that are discussed here.
    Thank you so much.


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