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Why do my outlets have 120 volts and nothing works?

My outlets are reading 120V on my meter but when I plug something in they do not work. Why Electrical Outlets May Not be Working.

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Electric Outlets Not Working
Electrical Question: My outlets are reading 120V on my meter but when I plug something in they do not work.

In my house a series of outlets are reading 120V on the meter but when I plug something into any of them the device does not work. I thought it was the breaker so I turned it off then back on again, still, devices do not work. I went ahead and replaced the breaker with one that is 30amp. I am getting the same result. It is really beginning to frustrate me! I have used other voltmeters to test the plugs and all are reading 120V, but when I plug ANY device into ANY of these outlets I get nothing. What is happening?

Sincerely,
Dominick

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

Why Electrical Outlets May Not be Working

IMPORTANT:
NEVER replace a circuit breaker with a larger size. This creates the potential to overheat the circuit wiring and which could cause a house fire!

Here are a few questions I have about the outlets that are not working:
How are you testing for voltage at the outlets?
If your testing hot to ground then make sure to also test hot to neutral.
There could be a problem where the neutral wire is open.
Did this just occur by itself, or has the wiring been altered or new wiring installed recently?

More about Electrical Outlet Problems

Electrical Outlet Wiring
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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.

Troubleshoot Electrical Wiring
Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring

Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.

For Best Results Consult a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
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» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

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Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.


  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Includes:
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.





Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

« Wiring a 4-Wire Range Cord to a 3-Wire Outlet My light fixture does not work right, what is wrong? »

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Why do my outlets have 120 volts and nothing works?”
  1. Tom says:

    A 30 Amp breaker should only be used with a 10 gauge wire, not a 12 gauge or 14 gauge. A #10 wire can handle 30 amp, a #12 wire can handle 20 amp and a #14 wire can handle 15 amp.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Thanks Tom,
      Yes – the amperage ratings for wire gauges and circuit breakers that you have stated are correct, and the insulation type and the application should be considered as well.
      Dave

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