My Voltage Seems Normal but the Outlet Will Not Work
Why does my volt meter show 114 volts but the outlets do not work? How to Troubleshoot Electrical Outlet Problems, Common Testing and Repairing Methods for Electric Outlet Problems.© By: Dave Rongey
Guide to Testing and Repairing Electrical Outlets
Electrical Question: Why does my volt meter show 114volts but the outlets do not work?
I have one room in my house where the lights went out and the outlets stopped working but my volt meter is reading 114 volts in the outlets that do not work.
- I changed every outlet in the room and it is still not working.
- I tested the outlet and it is still reading 114 volts.
This home electrical repairs question came from: Joy, from Sault Ste Marie, Canada.
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Joy.
How to Troubleshoot Electrical Outlet Problems
Application: Testing Home Electrical Outlets and Circuit Wiring
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Plug In Circuit Analyzer and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on age of the home, the condition of the electrical system and access to the electrical outlets.
Precaution: Electrical troubleshooting of this level is best performed by a licensed electrical contractor who will identify the problem and make the necessary repairs.
Testing and Repair Methods for 120 Volt Electric Outlets with Low Voltage or No Voltage
- How to Test a 120 Volt Outlet
When testing an outlet for voltage there may be conflicting readings because of the type of tester being used and the way the voltage test is being taken. When testing electrical outlets for voltage it is best to use a Plug In Circuit Analyzer which will produce a display of lights that will indicate the condition of the circuit and wiring.
- False Reading When Testing Outlet Voltage
Even through a Plug In Circuit Analyzer is one of the best methods for testing outlets, it too may produce false readings when the ground is connected to the neutral side of the receptacle outlet terminal which is a false ground and not correct.
- Outlet Testing Methods
If a voltage tester is being used with two lead wires then make sure to take separate voltage readings between the hot and neutral, and the hot and the ground. When voltage is being detected with the reading to the ground and not to the neutral or the voltage reading to the neutral is low then this typically indicates that there is a deteriorating or loose connection within the circuit or possibly a loose connection of the circuit wiring in the circuit breaker panel.
- Outlet Problems and Repairs
Most of these circuit problems are found with the wiring connections at one of the outlets of the affected circuit. These types of circuit faults and outlet problems are typically caused by one of the following conditions:
- Incorrect Wiring of the Outlet – Correct the polarity and rewire the outlet with the black power wire connected to the brass screw, the white neutral wire connected to the silver screw, and the ground wire connected to the green ground screw.
- Burnt Wiring Connections or Splice – Repair and replace the damaged wiring as needed with the same type and AWG wire size and correct wire connectors, typically use yellow or red color wire connectors for #15 and #12 AWG wire.
- Damaged or Burnt Outlet – Replace the receptacle outlet with a new outlet of the same voltage and amperage rating. This is a typical problem when space heaters or portable air conditioners are being used and are plugged into the outlet.
More about Wiring Electric Outlets
Wiring Electrical Outlets 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.
Understanding Digital Volt Meters
When working on home electrical wiring using voltage meter can play an important part in electrical safety. Electrical testers and voltage meters enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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