Last month I had an electrical outlet inside our front entry area go
bad while I was vacuuming, I think I accidentally pulled the plug while
the thing was running or something along that line, but don't remember
exactly what caused it. Nevertheless, it's no longer working :(.
After turning off and on the power from the box outside for the switch
in that area and the main switch that controls everything as well,
neither of those solved the problems. Thinking something maybe
happened with the outlet I tried swapping a working outlet from another
room with that one, still no go. After that I was reading on the
internet that a GFCI outlet from another room could be the cause, so I
tried resetting all the GFCI outlets in the house even though this
didn't have the little GFCI sticker on the face plate like some do, so
I'm not sure if it's even related to any of those that do state GFCI on
them. There were 4 outlets in the house that had the reset/test
buttons on them by the way, and others that have the little GFCI
stickers on them, this problem outlet not being one of them.
So today I picked up one of those little receptacle testers, plugged it
into that outlet and it shows one yellow light on the right which
allegedly means "Neutral contact not connected". Everything's
connected as I far as I can see, and I reconnected it just as I took it
out to test the other outlet from another room. It has those wires
that you push in and they lock into place if that matters at all.
This is a relatively new home (less than 3 years old) and all other
outlets and electrical functions work just fine. Does anyone have any
ideas as to what may be causing this? If so, I'd greatly appreciate
any help you can lend in this matter.
Thanks for your time!
Vacuums pull quite a lot of power. Since your tester tells you that you have
an open neutral, it means that the neutral connection has come loose in one
of the outlets, switches or lights that are daisy chained on that circuit.
The most likely location would be a back stabbed outlet or switch near the
one that's not working. Check all the outlets in the vicinity of the dead
outlet. It's possible, but not likely that it has anything to do with a
GFCI, as that location doesn't require GFCI protection
I just tested all the other outlets in that area and pretty much all in
the rest of the house as well, they all test OK with the two yellow
lights lighting up on the tester, All the light/fan switches in that
immediate area appear to be working fine as well.
RBM (remove this) wrote:
Yes, the outlet that isn't working only has two wires (Plus the ground)
in it. The one I tried in its place from another room of the house had
four main wires going to it. How would I find if a wire is loose in an
adjacent outlet if those outlets are all working normally?
Turn the power off, confirm that it's off. remove the outlet and see if any
wires are loose or disconnected. You want to check any outlets located near
the dead one, and not necessarily in the same room
Already checked all that, all wires were connected securely when I took
it out, tried the new outlet and when I put the old outlet back in.
When you say check other outlets around there, do you mean I need to
open each one up to check for something? If they're all working fine,
what exactly would I be looking for if I open them up? Sorry if that's
a stupid question, but I'm a little confused about that one, lol.
Except for the outlet at the end (which you say this one is, i.e. only two
wires), other outlets on your circuit should have two wires coming in and
two going out to the next outlet. If f the outlet before this one has two
going in that are fine, it will work, but if one of the wires going out to
the next outlet is not making contact then the next outlet will not work.
On 7 Mar 2006 19:47:05 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
BTW, iirc there is alittle hole next to the hole the wire is stabbed
into. You put a little screwdriver or a little nail into that hole
and push the screwdriver over and that somehow frees the electric
wire. Or if you can't get it out, you can cut it off. :)
Tackled this outlet problem again a little while ago and here's the run
First, as suggested I tried switching the wires from the push in type
to the screws, that didn't do anything.
Secondly, I took off the next nearest outlet which is across the way on
the other side just inside our front entry way. I pop the plate off
and take out the outlet and I only see two wires attached to it. I had
thought there would of been four on this since the other outlet across
the way, the problem one, also had only two wires going to it. Is it
possible that another outlet on the same chain also had two wires?
This was on the same circuit, since I only turned off one switch at the
box outside and tested the power on the specific areas I was going to
be working on. That area was off and the rest of the house remained
on. Anyway, couldn't do anything there, so I just put that back
The next closest electrical switches/outlets on this chain were two
sets of (3) switch panels inside our front entry, I took off both of
them and basically just re-tightened the wire caps that had big groups
of wires stuffed in there and made sure that the wires going to each
switch were snug. Everything appeared OK in there before I did
anything, the wire caps appeared to already be tight etc... But I
guess everything wasn't fully tightened, since after putting everything
back together on those 6 switches and flipping the power back on for
that area, I tested the problem outlet and wah lah it's now working
I put in a little digital programmable timer about 6 months ago in one
of those switch panels to control the outside lights and I "guess"
somehow, someway one of those wires that were in the wire caps that I
re-tightened today quit making contact all the way. I don't know how
it quit making contact since everything worked fine for many months
after I put in the digital timer, and the last I knew, our house and
walls haven't moved any, lol. Nevertheless, it's fixed and I can rest
easy again :).
Thanks again for the help and suggestions from everyone!
I would take the time to make a map of the outlets of the house showing
what circuit breaker they use. Turn off one breaker at a time and
determine which outlets/switches lose power.
From that you will most likely be able to determine what other outlets
are on the same on as the faulty one.
Next I would move the stabbed wires to the screw connections.
I keep such a map pasted inside my breaker box. It has been very useful
when I wanted to quickly disable power to an area.
I have labeled inside my box outside which area each breaker controls,
I did that after we first moved in when I was installing ceiling fans
in a bunch of the rooms and so I'd know which areas each switch
controlled as you mentioned.
I'll try switching over to the screw connections tomorrow on that
outlet to see if that helps make it come back to life somehow :).
On 7 Mar 2006 15:24:00 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Pulling the plug won't cause any problems for an outlet. It's just
like turning off the switch. It might eventually cause damage to the
plug-cord connection. Have you tried plugging something you know
works into this outlet, or plugging the vacuum into another outlet to
verify it still works.
But you're probably right that the outlet isn't working because your
tester says Open Neutral. This is a tester with three little
lights?? AFAIK, they work well.
You can verify that the neutral is open when you have the outlet
pulled away from its box. Get a meter, about 20 dollars at Radio
Shack for a digital multimeter, and first measure the voltage btween
the neutral wire and the ground (the metal box or the green screw or
the green wire). It's supposed to be zero, but you want to verify
that it is before you try the second test. The second test is to
measure the resistance from the neutral wire to the ground. If the
resistance is zero or very low, you don't have an open ground, but if
it very high, you do have that.
If you find at the wire that you don't have an open neutral, don'tt
assume that that is true everwhere. The plug-in tester measures at
the outlet itself and if there is poor contact between the neutral
wire and the neutral part of the receptacle, that's a problem in
itself. Those backstab connections are not as good as the ones with
the screw, so that could indeed be your problem.
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