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rwertheim 11-08-2010 01:12 PM

dead outlet mystery

I bought my 85 yr old bungalow in Decatur, Ga 3 yrs ago. Most of the house was rewired a few years before we bought it.

Yesterday I was vacuuming the dining room. I jerked on the extension cord & snapped the splice in the cord. It sparked at the splice and the outlet went dead. ... But no switch on the circuit breaker board flipped. No scorching on the outlet. Every other outlet & fixture in the dining room and whole house works fine. Yet the wires to the outlet are dead. Could the wires in the wall have been melted? Or what?

ceclmc 11-13-2010 07:33 PM

bad connection
I'm guessing that the outlet is fed from another outlet upstream. When the cord shorted the load caused a already bad connection to completely sever. You will have to check all of the connections in the outlet boxes until you find the problem. It sounds like it is in a wire nut joint, because the other outlets are working? Or worse case a wire was partially separated with a staple during construction and the short finished the job. Good luck, Chuck

budro 11-14-2010 06:13 AM

the spark you speak of tells me there was a short. this usually causes a breaker to trip. my advice is to go back and look those breakers over good. if you know exactly which breaker it is, turn it all the way off then back on. if you don't know which one it is look real close at all of them. not everyone knows a breaker has three positions, not two. they have on-tripped-off positions. you have to flip a tripped breaker off completely then back on to reset a tripped breaker correctly. i have seen some breakers trip and you could barely see any difference than being on. be careful if you are not familar with electricity but you can take the cover of the plug off and put your tester on the wires coming to the plug. are the wires hot or not? this will tell you which way to go. thanks, budro

JoeD 11-14-2010 07:28 AM

If this is a dining room receptacle then look for a GFCI in the kitchen that has tripped.

gmicken 11-17-2010 08:56 PM

Check the wire going to the outlet, is it aluminum? Has the house beed rewired? I have not seen a GFCI on an 85 year old house.

rwertheim 11-18-2010 08:24 PM

I appreciate all of your efforts but I better restate the totality of facts that make this a mystery.
1. Most of this 80 yr old house was rewired a few years before we bought it in 2007.
2. EVERY other fixture and outlet in the house is fine -- incl all the the GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
3. I flipped every circuit breaker switch off and on
4. The (copper) wires to the dining room outlet are dead

It is possible but highly unlikely that this one outlet is wired independently of everything else. Could it be that the short broke a connection in a junction box inside the walls? If so, how might I locate it without ripping open the walls?

JoeD 11-19-2010 09:43 AM

It is possible that the cable has come apart at the receptacle that feed this one. If you know what circuit this receptacle is supposed to be on start checking the working the receptacles or lights or switches that are on this circuit.

rwertheim 11-23-2010 10:50 PM

mystery solved
I finally discovered that the problem was in the circuit board. There was some looseness, not in the breaker switch, but in the connection of the breaker box to the board so that flipping the switch had no effect.

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