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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.

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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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Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring

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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
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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.

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.

« Cause of Bathroom That Lost Power to Light and Outlet Lighting Control With A Remote Control Module »

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

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,
      Dave

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