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Why Space Heaters Can Cause Electrical Outlet Problems

What has caused several outlets to stop working? How to Identify Potential Outlet Wiring Problems where Space Heaters are Used, Fix Electric Outlet Problems Caused by Portable Space Heaters.

Electric Outlets Not Working
Electrical Question#1: What has caused several outlets to stop working?

My brothers 1920’s vintage colonial home has several outlets that are not working. I checked the circuit breakers and none are tripped. I’m getting a reading on my tester of 40-50 volts and 120 between the metal box and the hot side of the receptacle. He says the problem occurred after he left a space heater on overnight. He also has no power in his garage which he says is an older problem.

This electrical troubleshooting question came from: Bob, a Contractor from Agawam, Massachusetts.
Additional Comments: GREAT!

Electrical Question#2: I had a breaker trip which was obviously caused by trying to use 2 space heaters on the same circuit.

This electrical wiring question came from Billy, a Handyman in Ochelata, Oklahoma.

Portable Electric Heaters and Outlet Problems

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electric wiring question Bob and Billy.

How to Fix Electric Outlet Problems Caused by Portable Space Heaters

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2 Responses to “Why Space Heaters Can Cause Electrical Outlet Problems”
  1. Mark says:

    I have an electric wall heater used to keep a water pump house from freezing in the winter where temperatures drop to -20F. I came back one day after a cold snap and the plastic heater grill was melted and the heater did not function. We may have had a power outage during the time I was away. If the heater is running, the power goes out and the fan stops, what keeps the heater from over heating and causing a fire? Are there protection measures built in or that I can take to prevent overheating during a power outage?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Mark,
      Heaters typically have temperature sensors installed to prevent the unit from overheating when installed and used according to the manufacturers specifications. From what you have described the existing heater may not be the right choice for this application. In my location we get freezing temps as well so you may want to consider the following:
      Install temperature regulated electric pipe wrap for the pipes and cover the hose bib with an insulated cover.
      Disconnect the hose and drain the water out to prevent freezing water and a clogged hose.
      In some cases, if self regulated heat tape is used on the the pipes, and an insulated enclosure is built or placed over the hose rack then the unit may not freeze.
      I hope this helps,


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