Blown Receptacles

I plugged an old lamp into a receptacle in my kitchen and it immediately “popped”…and made a black mark on the outside of the receptacle. Now that receptacle…along with 4 other receptacles beside it doesn’t work. It didn’t trip the breaker…nor do any of them have reset buttons. What exactly happened and how do I fix it? Thanks! :confused:

Sounds like you have a short in the lamp or it’s plug. Replace the cord if you want to use it again and inspect the connections.

you’ll have to replace the sockets (receptacle) too, at least the burned one. Turn off the power before you do that.

I’m assuming you’re in the US, and your home’s wiring is subject to NEMA standards. if not, feel free to ignore me.

It sounds like the wires feeding that receptacle had a poor connection to the receptacle inside the box; possibly the screws holding the wire came loose, or something caused corrosion. when you plugged in the lamp, an arc occured and broke the connection.

and since it’s ok to have multiple receptacles on one circuit, any receptacle “downstream” of that one is now powerless.

Good answer.

jz explained what happened.

To fix it:[ol][li] At the breaker box, turn off the power.[/li][li] at the receptacle, check that the power is off.[/li][li] unscrew & remove the cover plate.[/li][li] unscrew the screws holding the receptacle in the box.[/li][li] Gently pull the receptacle out of the box as far as the wires will allow (around 6").[/li][li] check again, at the wires themself, that the power is really off. [/li][li] unscrew the wires from the screw terminals on the receptacle.[/li][li] remove the wires from the receptacle, and throw it away.[/li][li] if the bare ends of the wires look black & scorched, or dirty, rub them with sandpaper until they are a bright copper color.[/li][li] take a new receptacle and attach the wires to the screw terminals on it. The white wire goes to a silver-colored screw, the black wire goes to a gold-colored screw. The green or bare wire (if there is one) goes to the green screw. There may be a 2nd pair of wires, that lead off to the next outlet. Attach them to the receptacle in the same way.[/li][li] leaving everything out in the open, go and turn the breaker back on.[/li][li] Back at the receptacle, carefully plug in your tester to see that the outlet is powered up. Also plug it into the other outlets and see that they are working, too. Then plug it into the new outlet and leave it there.[/li][li] go back to the breaker box and turn off that breaker.[/li][li] Back at the receptacle, check that the tester now shows that the power is off.[/li][li] Wrap electrical tape (NOT masking or duct or any other kind of tape) arount the receptacle covering up the screw terminals and the wires.[/li][li] Gently fold the wires and push them back into the box. Then push the receptacle into the box, and tighten it into place with the mounting screws.[/li][li] Put the cover back onto the receptacle and screw it down.[/li][li] go back to the breaker box, and turn the power back on.[/li][li] at the receptacle, the tester should now show that the power is on.[/li][li] use the tester to check that the other outlets are also working[/li][li] you’re done! celebrate. [/li]An electrician would probably have charged you $50-$75 for a trip to do this, so take that much money and spend it on some treat for yourself.

:smiley: Thanks so much for everyone’s response!!


The wires in the existing receptacle may be “back wired” - the wires are plugged into the back of the receptacle. Cheap-ass pros do this - it is much faster and easier than messing with screw terminals.

While it is possible to remove the wires from the receptacle, if you don’t already know how, just cut them off and strip the wires for the screw terminals.
(now you know why the receptacles have those funny holes in back and the little groove in the plastic at an edge - they are used with back wiring.)

#10 is a bad idea. using the outlet as a pass through is looking for trouble.

If you have power coming into an outlet box and going out the proper way is to make a splicing joint in the box and only connect one set of wires to the outlet.

Cut a 6 inch section of Black, White, and Green wires.
Strip both ends of the 6 inch wires.
Twist the stripped black wires together, including the 6 inch section. Twist on tightly a wire nut on the wires.
Repeat with the same with the white wire.
Repeat with the green wire but do not use a wire nut. Use a bare copper crimp. And crimp it tightly.

Then connect the outlet to the end of the 6 inch wires not connect to the splice point.

Wrap the outlet with electrical tape in a manner that the tape covers the screws.
then do your tests.

Maybe, but that’s obviously the way it was done (because the further outlets went dead also). And it didn’t sound like the OP would know how to make a splicing joint.

Not sure the OP should be doing electrical work if he does not know how to do electrical work.

You are probably right about how it was done and you have given one reason why it should not be done.

OP -
What is being discussed here is called a “pigtail”

If there are two wires to the receptacle (upper and lower both wired), they should have had a pigtail installed.

And there should be 6" of wire from the box to the receptacle. Not all wiring is nice and to code, however.

Not to be mean to the OP, but $75 to an electrician might be your best value. I think my number one reason to have to replace an outlet is that the outlet was residential grade complete with the 49¢ price tag on the back. I spend the $5 for commercial grade and they seem to last A LOT longer.