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  #1  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:15 PM
Fantome Fantome is offline
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No power at electrical outlet

An electrical outlet in my tenant's living room recently stopped working. All other nearby outlets work fine. I bought another outlet at Lowe's, shut off the breaker for another outlet a few feet away (assuming they run off the same breaker) and replaced the old one. Still not working. I don't think there are any GFCI's anywhere. Short of calling an electrician, what should my next step be?
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  #2  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:20 PM
BubbaDog BubbaDog is offline
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Just making sure - did you check to make sure that this is not a switched outlet? Sometimes people aren't aware that the weird light switch behind the bookcase that doesn't do anything actually controls a wall outlet.


Other than that I got nothing.
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:26 PM
Fantome Fantome is offline
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Yeah, that's not it.
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  #4  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:29 PM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
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Your first step should have been verifying the circuit. Beginning work on an electrical problem without knowing that you won't get shocked isn't recommended procedure.

Do you have a voltmeter or multimeter?

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 05-26-2010 at 03:30 PM..
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  #5  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:30 PM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is online now
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Go back to the outlet next (electrically) closer to the breaker and inspect/tighten the wires (after shutting off aforementioned breaker).

We just did this thread recently. I'm too lazy to search for it.

Last edited by UncleRojelio; 05-26-2010 at 03:30 PM..
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  #6  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:30 PM
Mtgman Mtgman is offline
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I like The Circuit Detective and have used his site in the past. Your problem is a common one, so follow his links to common problems and faqs to get advice. It's not the best organized site on the net, but it has good solid info.

Enjoy,
Steven
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  #7  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:34 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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find the breaker that circuit is on. find other receptacles on the same circuit.

what electrical testing devices do you have?

Last edited by johnpost; 05-26-2010 at 03:35 PM..
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  #8  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:44 PM
Fantome Fantome is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRojelio View Post
Go back to the outlet next (electrically) closer to the breaker and inspect/tighten the wires (after shutting off aforementioned breaker).
I'll try that tomorrow when I go back up there. Thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
find the breaker that circuit is on. find other receptacles on the same circuit.

what electrical testing devices do you have?
Like I said, since there's no power coming out of the one outlet, I can't be sure what breaker it's off of; I'm only assuming which one it is based on an outlet a few feet away. I tested the new outlet by plugging a few different devices into it. There's no power coming from those wires even when the breaker for the nearby outlet is on.
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  #9  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:50 PM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
Like I said, since there's no power coming out of the one outlet, I can't be sure what breaker it's off of; I'm only assuming which one it is based on an outlet a few feet away. I tested the new outlet by plugging a few different devices into it. There's no power coming from those wires even when the breaker for the nearby outlet is on.
My advice only stands if you KNOW which outlet is next and the power to it is OFF. Just because the next outlet is close by doesn't mean that they are served by the same breaker, indeed, the top outlet of a dual receptacle might be served by one breaker and the bottom by another. You have to verify these things before you dig in.
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  #10  
Old 05-26-2010, 03:50 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Get a non-contact current tester. Not expensive. Anywhere you can get to wires, insulated or otherwise, you can find out if a wire is 'live'. Check the circuit breaker, you should keep a spare for the common size breakers, usually 15 or 20 amp, and it wouldn't hurt to have a bigger one available during the winter if you have electric heat. If the wires don't carry current, you might need a carpenter more than you need an electrician. Depending on where you live, you may be able to replace wiring yourself, and if you have doubts, ask an electrician to come by and check your work. If you have a tenant, you should follow local laws, or else be very wealthy.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:01 PM
Fantome Fantome is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRojelio View Post
My advice only stands if you KNOW which outlet is next and the power to it is OFF. Just because the next outlet is close by doesn't mean that they are served by the same breaker, indeed, the top outlet of a dual receptacle might be served by one breaker and the bottom by another. You have to verify these things before you dig in.
Well, I know which breaker goes o the working outlet, so I might as well shut that breaker off and tighten the wires at that outlet, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ed malin View Post
Get a non-contact current tester. Not expensive. Anywhere you can get to wires, insulated or otherwise, you can find out if a wire is 'live'. Check the circuit breaker, you should keep a spare for the common size breakers, usually 15 or 20 amp
There wouldn't be a breaker just for one 110 volt outlet, would there? There's only one outlet that isn't working, so I doubt that a breaker needs to be replaced.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:04 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
Well, I know which breaker goes o the working outlet, so I might as well shut that breaker off and tighten the wires at that outlet, right? There wouldn't be a breaker just for one 110 volt outlet, would there? There's only one outlet that isn't working, so I doubt that a breaker needs to be replaced.
If that outlet were added later and all the available circuits were already full, sure, there could be just one outlet on that breaker.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:22 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Generally, I'm all for people learning to do things themselves, but in cases like these I'm not very comfortable with someone untrained doing the work. I would recommend letting a pro take a look at it.

If you do insist on doing it yourself, get a multimeter and learn how to use it. Also, they make circuit tracers that you can use to figure out where the wires go in the walls. You plug a little transmitter into the dead outlet, then use a hand-held wand like thing which beeps when you are over the wire. Keep following the beep along the wall to figure out exactly where the wire goes. You can get a cheap one for about $50 or $60.

If you do end up with a problem like a loose connection, you need to evaluate why it came loose. Is there an incorrect connection between aluminum and copper? Is the circuit overloaded and overheating? That sort of thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
There wouldn't be a breaker just for one 110 volt outlet, would there?
There is in my house. The idiot who wired my house up also put every single outlet in all three bedrooms on one circuit, which comes awfully close to overloading it when I put in the window air conditioners every summer. I wish I could track down that electrician and smack him upside the back of the head.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:26 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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By the way, since you said "tenant" I assume that this is a rental property of some sort. You might want to consider adding GFCIs to the kitchen and bathroom circuits, and ACFIs to the bedroom circuits. GFCIs are good at protecting people and AFCIs are great for preventing electrical fires.
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  #15  
Old 05-26-2010, 04:46 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
Well, I know which breaker goes o the working outlet, so I might as well shut that breaker off and tighten the wires at that outlet, right?
try that.

you need a multimeter or a neon lamp voltage tester or a noncontact voltage tester to trouble shoot if that doesn't work. you also need to know how to use them correctly and safely.
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  #16  
Old 05-26-2010, 06:05 PM
Valgard Valgard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
Well, I know which breaker goes o the working outlet, so I might as well shut that breaker off and tighten the wires at that outlet, right? There wouldn't be a breaker just for one 110 volt outlet, would there? There's only one outlet that isn't working, so I doubt that a breaker needs to be replaced.
If you didn't do the work yourself and you don't know for a fact that the work was done well by an actual electrician, be prepared for surprises and assume that anything, even the most crazy situation you can imagine, might be what's in the wall. I've done a bunch of work at my place (I'm not an electrician but I got the right permits and codecheck books and had proper inspections done) and while I won't claim to be a professional there are plenty of things I've seen and fixed that I could tell at a glance were done badly wrong by somebody who was either clueless or just didn't give a damn. Grounds tucked into fixtures and not connected, live cable cut and left lying out unprotected, that kind of stuff.
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