Basic electric question

As I was plugging something in the other day I saw a little spark and now the two outlets at that point don't work. I've tried 'tripping' a few of the switches. Does this usually mean a fuse is gone and I have to replace something? Or have I just not tripped the right switch.
Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
May have been an outlet linked to a Ground Fault Protection outlet. Look for a reset button on other outhlets.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

First of all something is wrong with this circuit if what you were plugging in worked fine in another outlet.
Second you refer to switches, I assume that you are referring to circuit breakers. If a circuit breaker is tripped, it will usually be half way between off and on. To reset, turn it all the way off then back on.
As Michael Baugh suggested, this might be a GFIC circuit especially if it is in a kitchen, bath or outdoors. These come in several varieties. Often there will be buttons on the face of the outlet, one marked test and the other marked reset. Sometimes a regular plug is used but it is downstream from the outlet with the buttons on it and those will trip. The third type is a GFIC breaker and those you would reset like a regular breaker.
If these things don't work you might want to schedule a service call with an electrician. This might be something that should be looked at by someone that knows what they are doing, and the way you ask the question suggests you are not familiar with wiring and since this is important to the safety of your family you might want to let a pro handle it.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 12/27/2004 10:06 PM US(ET), D'Olier took fingers to keys, and typed the following:

Perhaps the outlet itself shorted out? Turn off the breaker to that outlet and pull it out. Replace with a new outlet.
--
Bill

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

replace
That's what I think happened. The outlet is outdoors and although I know nothing about this type of thing, seeing a little spark and then it doesn't work sounds like being 'shorted out'.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you don't already have all of the circuits mapped out in your home, this would be a great time to get on this project. Grab a radio and a helper to label each outlet and lighting device and appliance with it's corresponding circuitbreaker number.
Once you know for sure which circuit breaker(s) protects the receptacles in question, only then are you ready to start trouble-shooting.
If your panel has circuit breakers (you refer to "switches"), turn the breaker firmly to the "off" position, then back to the "on" position. If you hear a click, and/or the breaker visibly trips, you have a dead-short in the circuit. You would need to go and hunt down the short-circuit condition -- WITH THE POWER OFF TO THAT CIRCUIT. As was suggested, it could well be a faulty receptacle. Take out the old one and replace it with a new one. Make sure you connect the wires exactly like the old one. Do not use backstabbed connections. Strip the end of the wire 5/8 inch, and tighten the wire under the screws with the wire running in a clockwise direction around and under the screw.
If turning the breaker off/ on does not immediately re-trip the breaker, but the receptacles still are not working, then you need to do further testing (or call an electrician). Buy a $10 circuit analyzer from the local hardware store. It looks like this http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/productdetail.jsp?xi=xi&ItemId11766418&ccitemTurn the breaker back on to test. If the lights on the tester light up, you have an open neutral. Turn off the circuit breaker, and call an electrician. If the tester does not light up, you have an interruption in the non-grounded (hot) wire or a faulty breaker. Mr Fixit eh
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.