How to Test Receptacle Outlet Circuits
I have receptacles on one wall that appear to have power when tested but when I plug something in it does not work. How to Test a Receptacle for Voltage.
Testing a Receptacle Outlet
Electrical Question: I have receptacles on one wall that appear to have power when tested, but when I plug something in it does not work.
- In my living room there are three receptacles on one wall.
- My husband has tested them and they are live, but when you plug something in, it doesn’t work.
- We have tested and things that we plug in other places work, but not on that wall.
- We have checked the fuse box and nothing is tripped.
- Any ideas?
Thank you. Doris
Background: Doris, a Homeowner from Lakewood, Colorado.
See more about Home Wiring for Colorado
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Doris.
How to Test a Receptacle for Voltage
Application: Testing Outlets and 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 receptacle outlets that are affected and access to each location.
Precaution: Identify the outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Checking Receptacle Outlets for Electric Power
- Using a Plug In Outlet Tester
- Plug In circuit analyzers are a good way to safely test standard 3 prong 120 volt receptacle outlets.
- Simply plug in the circuit analyzer into the outlet and then notice the pattern of the display lights.
- The analyzer will have a label explaining what all the various light displays indicate about the outlet or the circuit wiring.
- Testing Using a Two Lead 120 Volt AC Voltage Tester
- This method includes using either a tester with a digital readout or an analog tester with a sweep needle display, each having two test leads that are typically black and red.
- The red lead is typically used to test to the hot side of the device.
- The tester should be set for 120 volts AC.
- CAUTION: Be careful and handle only the insulated portions of the test leads.
- Testing for Voltage
- The receptacle test should be made between the hot and neutral, and the hot and ground.
- On a standard 120 volt outlet the hot portion is the smaller of the two vertical slots, and the neutral is the larger vertical slot.
- These test should produce a reading between 110 to 125 volts. Some variation in voltage is normal, however the readings should not drop below 110 volts or go above 125 volts.
- Abnormal Readings
- If a normal reading is not measured then if is very possible that either the receptacle outlet or the circuit wiring has lost connection with either the neutral or the hot.
More about Electric Outlet Testers and Circuit Analyzers
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.
How to Using Electrical Testers
Electrical Safety and Voltage Testers
- When working on home electrical wiring, quality voltage testers can play an important part in electrical safety.
- Electrical testers enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
How to Troubleshoot Outlet Problems
Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring
Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring
- The Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting.
- Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.