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Electrical Wire and Cable

Why Outlets Stop Working

How to Identify and Repair Outlets: What happened to make my outlets stop working? The most common reasons why wall outlets stop working and how they are repaired.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

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Outlets that Lost Power
Electrical Question: What happened to make my outlets stop working?

The following electrical questions have similar problems where power was lost to outlets.
The typical cause for lost power to outlets and and methods of repair are described in detail below.

Why did the outlet stop working?

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

Any ideas what happened?

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

What could the problem be with out Outlets?

This electrical wiring question came from Wayne in Indiana.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your Home Electrical questions Elliot and Wayne.
How to Troubleshoot Outlets that Lost Power

Identify and Repair Outlet Problems

Application: Testing Outlet Circuit Wiring
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best Repaired by a Licensed Electrician.
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.

How to Troubleshoot Electric Outlet Problems

The following is a list of problems that may prevent electrical outlets to stop working, and where to locate these potential electrical problems.

Repairing Burnt Electrical Wire on an Outlet Circuit

See More about Wiring for Electrical Outlets

Bathroom Electrical Wiring

Electric Outlet Wiring

Wiring a GFI Outlet
Wiring Diagram GFI

Circuit Breakers

Electrical Wire for Outlets

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
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, Handy Women, and Electricians
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.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

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.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

3 Responses 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.


  2. patty gillespie says:

    I plugged a vacuum cleaner into an outlet and it worked fine but then it quit. Now the lights in that room do not work but in the other side of the room the outlets work fine. I checked the breakers and changed the outlet.

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Patty,
    The circuit should be turned off and repaired as soon as possible. The electrical wiring inside the outlet boxes and lighting devices that are on the same circuit will need to be inspected for a loose or burnt electrical wire connection, or faulty wire splice. Once identified the appropriate repairs will be required to restore the power to the room. This is best performed by a licensed electrical contractor.
    I hope this helps,