A circuit is 99% down.

Hi,
One of the circuit in my house has all of a sudden died. It happened when I was trying to plug in a (working) device in the outlet, and something in the outlet popped with a bright spark. Now the circuit is down, except when I use a voltage detector it beeps and when I use a meter it shows a voltage of 3V. I don't think it's the circuit breaker because I swapped it out and it didn't affect anything. What could this be?
Many thanks in advance!
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Open up that outlet and see what is going on. Maybe a loose connection.
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If the flash, pop, spark, etc. occurred right there while you were plugging something in, the open circuit should be in that box
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yeah and DONT use a digital meter, that 3 volts isnt real
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On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 02:08:12 -0800 (PST), Aaron Fude

Check: loose connection, broken wire, GFCI, bad circuit breaker, wall switch, improper wiring.
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Outlets are frequently daisy-chained. Start from the circuit breaker and check each outlet till you get to the last live one. Check the wiring leading to the dead outlet.
Flip the breaker off to see which outlets are on the circuit.
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Aaron Fude wrote:

The outlet is likely fried.
I've experienced several of these. The outlets are connected via stab-in connectors. The current draw is just too great for the minimal contact, the socket heats up, partially melts, distorts, rusts, barnacles develop, and god-knows-what, such that the next time you plug in an electric clock, the whole thing goes BOOM!.
The fix is simple. Replace the outlet. Might as well get a good one and don't use the stab-in connections.
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Hi,
Thanks for responses.
Actually, it's not just the outlet - it's the entire circuit. I've just replaced the outlet, but it didn't fix anything. Also, it's the last outlet on the circuit. Could the event have broken a connection somewhere else or killed the circuit breaker (although I think I've tested that).
Thanks!
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Ditto, you said you checked the circuit breakers, but didn't say how. Open the box and check with a test lamp, each breaker terminal to ground

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Make sure you have really checked all the outlets. I had a similar problem with all the outlets in one bedroom. Fuse box was labeled for that bedroom. It also went to one outlet in the living room on an adjoining wall. My wife found this while I was scratching my err head when she plugged in the vaccum in there and found it didnt work either. It was then I noticed there was no livingroom on the breaker panel. every outlet there was shared from some other room in the house.
Check outlets on adjoining walls.
Jimmie
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On Tue, 26 Feb 2008 01:39:49 -0500, "Jimmie D"

And consider better fusebox labeling.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
  Click to see the full signature.
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On Tue, 26 Feb 2008 11:51:37 -0600, Mark Lloyd
Better advice never given, and I continue to follow it to this day as I track down which circuits serve which outlets, etc.
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Aaron Fude wrote:

The outlet you replaced was blown all to hell, right? Black. Necrotic. Melted. Covered with barnacles.
It's possible that the excessive current draw that fried this outlet put a strain on some upstream outlet(s) and similarily caused them to fail. Sort of a poor-man's GFCI.
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A bad outlet, a popped breaker, and the use of a digital meter where an analog one is warranted.
s

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Don't trust that. Digital meters pick up on the natural tendency of wires to become antennas. Antennas form a voltage from EM radiation passing over them. Shut the brakers and replace the switch!
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