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Old 03-17-2012, 05:38 PM   #1
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Confusing outlet issue

I bought a house not to long ago built in 71. For the past couple years I've been living here my refrigerator and microwave have shared the same outlet. Busy with so many things I never checked on what outlets were controlled by what breakers. The other day the refrigerator was doing a defrost cycle (I think) and I turned the microwave on. The power to both refrigerator and microwave went out immediately so I checked the breaker and it was still on.

So the outlet was still hot but no power to appliances. I changed the outlet. It had a 15amp outlet so thats what I replaced it with even though my breaker is 20amp. So as soon as I plugged that microwave in that outlet went again. So I tried it in another outlet and it went. So the microwave is junk I'm assuming.

Now whats got me puzzled is I put in a new 20amp outlet and I'm only going to plug my refrigerator into it. Right 20 amp outlet and 20amp breaker for my fridge? The outlet is hot but its not powering my fridge. Anybody have any clue whats happening here?


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Old 03-17-2012, 06:27 PM   #2
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if you're using a 'beep' or non contact tester, i'd assume you lost the neutral to the outlet. try a '3 light' tester or a standard multimeter


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Old 03-17-2012, 06:37 PM   #3
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Unless the wire going to the outlet is 12-2 with ground the breaker should not be 20 amp.
If it's an older house it's possible someone just installed a higher amperage breaker, thinking it would stop the tripping. What it can do if the wires where not changed is cause the insulation on the wires to melt from over heating and still not have the breaker trip until it's to late.
Should not have mattered if the outlet was only a 15 amp. outlet if there's 110 volts coming out of the outlet the fridge should stilll work.
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #4
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Sounds like a bad connection on another outlet "upstream" from the one you keep replacing.

Houses that were built in 1971 rarely had dedicated circuits for the fridge.

Check all the other outlets in your kitchen for good solid connections.

PS: Do you by chance have aluminum wiring there??

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Old 03-18-2012, 10:16 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies!

I"m understanding what you mean about 20 amp breakers and not necessarily having the right size wiring. The wiring comes out of the top of the box but I can't see any marking on the insulation. What I've found is that I have 3 20 amp breakers in my box.

-1st one goes to my fridge and an outlet on the other side of the wall. Kind of weird it goes to that other outlet right?
-2nd one goes to the 2 outlets above my kitchen counter. One of which I think has lost its neutral due to me plugging my faulty microwave into (wasn't sure it was faulty at the time).
-3rd one I'm still checking.

So perhaps my counter outlet is the culprit and caused my outlet on another circuit to lose is neutral? This worries me because why would they be sharing neutrals? I hate not knowing.

p.s. So far I haven't found any aluminum wiring.

Last edited by Penguinfan; 03-18-2012 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 03-18-2012, 11:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Penguinfan View Post
This worries me because why would they be sharing neutrals? I hate not knowing.
Frequently done when wiring a MWBC (multi-wire branch circuit)
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Last edited by hammerlane; 03-18-2012 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:23 PM   #7
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Have you tested the other outlets, that are on the same circuit
as the microwave ?
Do they test ok ?
Do they work ok ?
And what are you testing them with ?


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