No juice to certain outlets

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by sidewalkdrop, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Jan 20, 2010 #1

    sidewalkdrop

    sidewalkdrop

    sidewalkdrop

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    I've been ignoring an electrical issue in my house for about a year now. The problem is that none of the outlets in my dining room work and half the outlets in my kitchen don't work. The two rooms are right next to each other and none of the 4 bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, den, basement, garage, outside have any such outlet problems.

    I made a quick diagram here:

    [​IMG]

    None of the built-in wired lights in these rooms are malfunctioning. Both rooms have overhead fans/lights that work and the kitchen has cabinet (above and below) lighting and a overhead light about the sink that work just fine (along with their respective switches).

    I've reset all the breakers but that had no effect. I don't have any GFCI outlets either. I'm just looking for some initial steps to take to try troubleshooting and fixing this.

    The house is about 70 years old but the kitchen was completely remolded and rewired about 15 years ago.
     
  2. Jan 20, 2010 #2

    inspectorD

    inspectorD

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    You have a short somewhere.
    You would be saving yourself alot of trouble by just getting an electrician for this one.
    How is your electrical knowledge? Are you ok with going inside the panel? If not, forget about this as a diy.
    I know this is DIY site, however some things are just to dangerous, and really not worth it.
     
  3. Jan 20, 2010 #3

    sidewalkdrop

    sidewalkdrop

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Would you be able to clear this up: if there is a short somewhere, shouldn't it be tripping a breaker?
     
  4. Jan 20, 2010 #4

    handyguys

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    It could have shorted out and damaged a connection and now is completely out even tho breaker is re-set.

    One reason inspectorD suggests bringing in a pro is because you have set all the breakers. We assume they are all on yet no power to certain places. That means there is an open connection somewhere. This could be a loose wire that is LIVE. It could be a bad receptacle with a LIVE wire to it. It could be a bad breaker, it could be a loose wire in the panel itself.

    It could also be something more simple. Could there be a GFCI somewhere, installed during the kitchen remodel? Look near the panel, look overhead in the basement.
     
  5. Jan 20, 2010 #5

    sidewalkdrop

    sidewalkdrop

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    I'll also poke around the basement ceiling and see if there is any in-line equipment put in that may have tripped.

    I definitively don't want to mess around with taking apart the panel. Would it be a waste of time/effort to take a look at each non-working outlet and just check for a loose wire? I can kill the power and am comfortable doing this.
     
  6. Jan 20, 2010 #6

    handyguys

    handyguys

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    If you are comfortable making sure the pwer is off and checking for loose connections and can do it safely then go for it. If you have any outlets that have been installed with backstab connections change them out to using the screws. Also, make sure you check each outlet for split wiring (if you don't know what I mean, ask). If you replace an outlet that was split with one that isnt configured for split you will add yet another problem.
     
  7. Jan 20, 2010 #7

    handyguys

    handyguys

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    oh, and the first dead outlet closest to the panel is the first one I would check.
     
  8. Jan 20, 2010 #8

    travelover

    travelover

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    Good advice. I had a similar problem and it was the push in wire connector that had failed on an outlet. I just switched the wires to the screw terminals and it was off to the races.
     
  9. Jan 20, 2010 #9
    I'm with the inspector on this one when it comes to electricity I call an electrician for anything I'm not sure I can do.
     
  10. Jan 20, 2010 #10

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    There's some things you can do without removing the panel cover.

    Sometimes just pushing slightly on a failed outlet brings the power back. If so, you've found your loose connection.



    Assuming only one of the two connections (the hot wire, which should be the short outlet slot) is bad, run a 7-1/2w test lamp from a known good ground to each short slot of each failed outlet.

    If you find one of the failed outlets that has an energized hot wire, turn breakers on and off until this outlet loses power.
    Now, check what other outlets have lost power.

    Now you have identified all the outlets on that breaker and with that breaker off you can use an ohmmeter to check where the bad connection is.

    Checking the neutral wire requires the test lamp to go from a known good 120v source, but it's otherwise the same principle.



    For those outlets that still work, if you have a voltmeter there is a way to check connection integrity all the way back to the power pole without removing any covers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2010
  11. Jan 20, 2010 #11

    JoeD

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    Or the last working device before the dead one. The problem could be on the outgoing cable and the device would still be working.
     
  12. Jan 28, 2010 #12

    Mus

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    There is a short in the circuit somewhere. It could be a loosewire on a outlet and the power is not feeding the rest of the circuit. A loose wire maynot trip the braker if it does not cause a short (to Ground). Call a Electrician to trouble shoot the circuit for you.

    Metro Atlanta Electric
    Metro Atlanta Electric | Electricians in Atlanta | (678) 929-PLUG
     
  13. Jan 29, 2010 #13

    ohmy

    ohmy

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    Generally, this is a loose wire somewhere. Its often in the outlets or switches with a poor connection was made. If you are brave enough, try checking the outlets in that circuit for a loose connection.
     
  14. Feb 15, 2010 #14

    Guru_sparkie

    Guru_sparkie

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    In my personal experience - if you're still working on this, I know EXACTLY what your issue is -- but I'm NOT suggesting it is an easy fix...

    First of all, you should hire a good electrician and expect to pay a 4 hour minimum. (I wouldn't do it for any less, considering the headaches involved.)

    Your problem is:

    A loose or improperly joined conductor -- either downstream of the receptacles or in a light device box SOMEWHERE in the house. The best part about this is, it is a NEUTRAL wire that you should be looking for...

    Have you installed any new lamps or ceiling fans in the home anywhere?

    I can almost guarantee that this is where your problem lies, as I have run into this MANY times on these improperly-wired homes...

    Good luck!
     
  15. Mar 17, 2010 #15

    TRW22

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    Had this problem in my girlfriends kitchen. A few of her outlets didn't work. It ended up being a loose neutral wire in an outlet causing everything downstream to be inactive also.

    Backstabbling outlets should be avoided. I try to pigtail as much as I can so at least if the outlet or switch goes bad, everything downstream will continue to work.
     
  16. Mar 17, 2010 #16

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    The fastest way to find the problem, on average:

    If you have 10 outlets cascaded and there is power to the first one and not to the last one, start checking at outlet #5.
    Then, depending on the results, go upstream or downstream.
     
  17. Mar 17, 2010 #17

    TRW22

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    Agreed. The only hard part is knowing what is upstream or downstream. With most of the wiring hidden in cabinets or behind drywall it can sometimes be a guessing game.
     
  18. Mar 17, 2010 #18

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Some $35 studfinders made by Zircon have a wire-finding option.

    If you have working outlets plug in a 10A hair dryer.
    For #14 copper, for 10' of wire between outlets, there will be a 260 mV drop between the hots in each outlet. The wire has about 2.6 milliohms per foot of resistance.
    Downstream outlets not drawing current will have zero voltage drop between hot leads.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  19. May 7, 2010 #19

    Lightingguru

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    I would try to find the first plug on the circuit and start there.
     

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