Weird electrical problem

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A few weeks ago I plugged in my vacuum cleaner (a Hoover Elite, Chinese-made, and less than two years old) into an electrical outlet in my dining room. The vacuum cleaner tried to come to life for a few seconds, then died. But for some reason, this also caused the electrical outlet to stop working. So I tried another outlet. The vacuum cleaner wouldn't come on, and also caused that outlet to die. I wasn't going to let it ruin a third outlet.
Then after a few days, the same two outlets started working again. They worked for a few days, then they went out again. And now, after a few more days, they've started working again.
What the heck is going on? Is this a matter of simply replacing the two affected outlets, or could it be some kind of problem in the fusebox? Have you ever heard of an appliance causing an outlet to stop working? Because I've never experienced this before. Thanks in advance for any help.
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Dennis M wrote:

Intermittent problems like that are often caused by bad connections. That could be either in the hot wires or in the neutrals.
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This is a fairly common problem. Typical outlets are daisy-chained together along the circuit. Any loose connection will cause all the outlets on the chain that are beyond the loose connection to go dead. Vacuums have very large motors, with high starting current and will easily cause a poor connection to "open". Usually this occurs when the method of attaching the wiring to the outlets is by inserting the conductors into spring clips in the back of the outlets, which is called back stabbing. If the wire doesn't go in properly, it lends itself to just the condition that you have.
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So do you think having an electrician check the wiring to the outlets, and making it more secure, will solve the problem? Or will the outlets have to be replaced too?
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All the electrician has to do is remove the back stabs and install the conductors on the screw terminals of the existing outlets. The one outlet where the open circuit occurred will probably need replacing
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On Sun, 13 Feb 2011 16:07:20 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@dennism3.invalid (Dennis M) wrote:

My guess is an electrician will pull the wires out of the "back stabs" and put them under the side screws. That fixes about 99% of these problems. Whether you want the receptacles replaced is really up to you but the labor is going to be the same. If you are having problems with the plugs being loose in the receptacle, it might be worth putting in a better grade of receptacle.
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On 2/13/2011 5:18 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Decent outlets are what, 2-3 bucks apiece, especially in a bulk pack? At the rate electrician will charge for labor, it is cheap insurance to have him swap any outlet he opens, especially if your house is more than a few years old, and the outlets in question get used a lot. I bought 2 or 3 ten-packs to swap out the 2-hole outlets when I moved in here, and have half a box left for spares if I break any more. When I sell, I'll leave them for the next owner. (Yes, I had a good tested ground in the boxes, and the romex has a ground cable.)
Swaps like this are a simple DIY, once you have seen it done a couple times. Without bugging the guy, stand quietly and watch while he does it, and next time you won't feel squeamish about doing it yourself.
--
aem sends...

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I believe hoover has a recall out for chinese made sweepers, that have caused fires. Might be worth looking into
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In article

Yeah, I checked the same model on Amazon and it has 70 1-star ratings (but a few hundred 3 and higher-star reviews). I saw some complaints of overheating and going dead. I guess after the electrician fixes the outlet I can find out if the culprit is the outlet or vacuum (while he's still around).
In case I don't get another chance I wanted to thank everyone in this thread for their informed opinions. I plan on showing them to my electrician and I'm sure they'll be a big help in helping him zero in on the problem more quickly.
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*I concur with RBM. I recommend changing the receptacles since they are a cheap expense. I also suggest that you tell the electrician, if he doesn't do it on his own, to pigtail the receptacles instead of having the entire circuit feed-through each receptacle. That way if one connection on the receptacle fails it won't take out other sections of the circuit.
Someone posted a similar experience with a vacuum cleaner several weeks or months ago. You could try and search for that post and read the responses which are almost the same as what you are getting.
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I don't know if this has anything to do with my problem, but I might mention that it's impossible to plug anything into the top half of the first outlet I was talking about. Something in there is jammed or something. I'd say that outlet at least should be replaced. But the bottom half has always been okay and worked (until the vacuum cleaner problem).
Also, I've always thought it strange that all the outlets in my house have been installed "upside down," that is, if you have a ground plug, it will plug in "on top" of the main two receptacles instead of underneath.
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That outlet needs to be replaced. There is actually no upside down for outlet receptacles. There was a time when we were told that ground up was going to be code, but it never happened.
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On 2/13/2011 2:31 PM Dennis M spake thus:

Just replace all the suspected outlets. Outlets themselves are very cheap, and it's about as much work to just check them as it is to replace them. By the way, this is something you can easily do yourself, if you follow a few simple common-sense precautions.

I like to say that "upside down is the new right-side-up". I install new outlets that way. Marginally safer, as others have pointed out, since if anything metal falls onto a plug plugged into the outlet, it'll contact the ground pin instead of the hot/neutral prongs. If you look at the way outlets are installed in hospitals, they're generally "upside down".
It also seems to hold 3-prong plugs in better physically, as the cord will tend to hang from the ground pin which is generally more tightly embedded in the socket.
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On 2/13/2011 4:54 PM, David Nebenzahl wrote:

I was on a Core of Engineers job and ground hole at the top was specified, that was more than 20 years ago. It really depends on the local engineering/inspection dept. I had an inspector here tell me ground holes at the top and I said "yes sir". I work on a lot of commercial refrigeration equipment and I will often remove and rotate the receptacle to work with the right angle plug that most of the equipment has.
TDD
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On Sun, 13 Feb 2011 16:31:59 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@dennism3.invalid (Dennis M) wrote:

In Qiebec, by chance?? I have seen that quite commonly in Quebec.
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On Feb 14, 8:32am, "Stormin Mormon"

Bull... Feeding the full circuit load through each receptacle by not creating a pigtail for the receptacle in the box is a sure way to make the outlets fail YEARS sooner than they need to... Not to mention the nuisance failures from loose connections on the hot or neutral connections feeding through each receptacle...
There is a reason why commercial buildings are wired with pigtails rather than feeding through the devices... Reliability and not having to come back and spend man hours searching for the one loose wire in a circuit... It sounds like you were never taught proper techniques, I have yet to see a wirenut connection made up by an electrician who utilized workmanlike practices fail without some sort of environmental factor like water infiltration involved... Stuff made up by so called "handyman" types and others who think they know electrical stuff -- ROFL... I have seen too many wires for the size of wirenut used or too few wires for the size of wirenut which have been twisted together and then bent over again so the wirenut would stay on...
You are giving bad electrical advice on this installation practice, either because you never learned the right way of doing it properly or due to the fact that you may not be as "good" of an electrician as you think you are...
The more of your posts I read, the more you seem to be proving yourself to be "a jack of all trades but master of none"...
~~ Evan
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Bull... Feeding the full circuit load through each receptacle by not creating a pigtail for the receptacle in the box is a sure way to make the outlets fail YEARS sooner than they need to... Not to mention the nuisance failures from loose connections on the hot or neutral connections feeding through each receptacle...
There is a reason why commercial buildings are wired with pigtails rather than feeding through the devices... Reliability and not having to come back and spend man hours searching for the one loose wire in a circuit... It sounds like you were never taught proper techniques, I have yet to see a wirenut connection made up by an electrician who utilized workmanlike practices fail without some sort of environmental factor like water infiltration involved... Stuff made up by so called "handyman" types and others who think they know electrical stuff -- ROFL... I have seen too many wires for the size of wirenut used or too few wires for the size of wirenut which have been twisted together and then bent over again so the wirenut would stay on...
You are giving bad electrical advice on this installation practice, either because you never learned the right way of doing it properly or due to the fact that you may not be as "good" of an electrician as you think you are...
The more of your posts I read, the more you seem to be proving yourself to be "a jack of all trades but master of none"...
~~ Evan
While I am a big fan of pigtailing, and agree that a professionally installed wire nut is not likely to come loose, receptacles are rated to handle the pass through current, and there is no requirement to pigtail outlets in commercial buildings
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On 2/14/2011 1:47 PM RBM spake thus:
[snip ill-attributed mess]

No requirement, sure, but I think Evan makes a pretty persuasive argument why pigtailing is a good practice. Why not buy yourself a little more insurance against trouble years down the road? That way, a bad/crunched/burned outlet won't affect others further down the chain. Takes, what, an extra minute per box?
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Two reasons, time is money being one. Typically outlet connections methods are not spelled out, so the contractor is going to do what is code required and fastest. Second, I've never seen any evidence that daisy chained outlets, using the screw terminals, is problematic.
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On 2/14/2011 3:47 PM, RBM wrote:

I have seen idiots try to make good connections on outlets with stranded wire by twisting it mashing it under a side wire screw. It doesn't work so well with outlets that don't have the back wired clamp connection. That's one of the few cases where I think pigtails should be used on an outlet. Did you see the link I posted to the Leviton commercial grade receptacles with factory pigtails?
TDD
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