Flakey Power Outlets

Page 1 of 2  

Last night, the reading light and clock on my headboard both went out at the same time. I jiggled the extension cord plug and they momentarily came back on but would not stay on. I figured there might be a lose wire in the socket and since I didn't want to deal with it at the moment, I moved the extension cord to another outlet on the other side of the bed. Once again, the connection was intermittent and would not stay on.
Right about then, my laptop started complaining that the battery was about to die so I plugged its power supply into the wall socket where I had moved the extension cord to. No power. So I started to plug it into a third outlet and before I could even insert the plug half way, the reading lamp and clock came back on.
What's going on here? Can someone give me some tips to troubleshoot this situation?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/8/2008 1:39 PM Bob Simon spake thus:

Hard to tell from your description what's going on exactly: are all the things that are having problems running through the extension cord? Maybe it's time to throw it out and get a new one. I'd start there before you start suspecting "loose wires" in sockets, an unlikely (though possible) problem.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 08 Sep 2008 13:51:43 -0700, David Nebenzahl

No, the LED on the computer power supply did not light up when I plugged it into the second outlet.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/8/2008 2:10 PM Bob Simon spake thus:

So you may have bad outlets. If so, the solution's pretty simple: replace them.
Now, if you're handy and knowledgeable about simple electrical repairs, you'll know how to do that safely and correctly. That way, we don't have to go through that whole business of "make sure the power for that circuit is turned off; get the right outlets to replace the old ones", etc., etc. If not, you can guess what I'm about to suggest:
Call an electrician.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
What do you think is going on change bloody cord or by new light Tony

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

I have seen outlets so worn out that plugs don't stay in or make good contact. Try bending the prongs slightly so there is some resistance when you plug it in.
--
Blattus Slafaly ? 3 :) 7/8

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 08 Sep 2008 17:52:25 -0400, Blattus Slafaly

I've used one outlet (in an old building) that wouldn't accept a plug unless the prongs were squeezed together while inserting it.
Possibly the first time I felt 120V.
--
108 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mark Lloyd wrote:

Why would anyone touch prongs going into the plug? Did you put your tongue on it too?
--
Blattus Slafaly ? 3 :) 7/8

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

Did you read what I wrote? This outlet WOULDN'T accept a plug otherwise. Anyway, details are hard to remember after 30 years.
--
104 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You might be facing the dreaded "stab-in" receptacle problem.
Most receptacles have two ways to attach the wire--bend around screws or strip insulation and "stab" it into a spring loaded clip. Many electricians use the stab in method because it's faster. But over time the heat reduces spring tension on the clip and you get an intermittent connection. If one receptacle is feeding another, you'll get intermittents all the way down the "daisy chain".
Turn off the power and remove a receptacle. If the wires aren't wrapped around the screw, insert a small nail into the groove on the backside of the receptacle and the pull on the wire. Then make a half circle bend in it and bind it under the screw instead. That will be a permanent fix for the problem.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Highly likely to be the problem. The even better fix is to get rid of all the 69 cent back stabbers and get some real receptacles from the $2.98 bin at your box store. The better ones have back contacts tightened by the side screws, saving time in rewiring. HTH
Joe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 08 Sep 2008 17:37:04 -0500, Rick-Meister

Sounds to me like this is 100% right.
If the OP is messing with one outlet, and effects another one, this almost always the cause.
I would start by replacing the receptacle that causes the other one to come back on.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The outlets in the room are daisy-chained together and you have a loose connection, causing the outlets downstream of that connection to lose power . I would guess the problem to be in the outlet that you plugged the computer into, when the power came back on. This situation is frequently caused by poorly back stabbed connections on the receptacles
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wow ... if you have to ask that, you'd better save it for an electrician.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sounds like you have aluminum wiring and they loose their tension under compression . They have to be tightened periodically . There is an spring loaded pigtail of copper wire that can be installed to eliminate this problem if indeed that is the case.
Sal

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sounds like a bad back stabbed outlet somewhere in the chain. Start taking them apart and putting the wires on the screws.
s

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

Those of you who suggested that I had daisy-chained, back-stab outlets were exactly correct. Thank you very much. The repair was quick and easy so even though fixing the upstream outlet may have solved the immediate problem, I did all three anyway.
The only tool that I wish I had for this job is a flashlight that mounts on a headband. Can anyone recommend a lightweight one, preferable one that uses LEDs?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I like this one <http://www.meritline.com/led-flashlight-206-flesh.html . It's physically compact so the light assembly doesn't hit things in close quarters, and the wide light beam illuminates the work well.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Andy, Thanks for the recomendation. That's good enough for me. The web site stated that it has a "flash function". What does that mean?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/10/2008 6:47 AM Bob Simon spake thus:

It flashes (dunno why anyone would want that, except maybe for a distress signal). The switch cycles through dim, medium, bright and flashing.
I got one like that, and the little chip that controls it got fried, so I ended up replacing it with a toggle switch and a resistor. No flashing, no brightness levels, just off and on.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    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.