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Old 08-16-2010, 09:30 AM   #1
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Expanding dead outlet problem

About two weeks ago I noticed an outlet in my dining room was dead. I couldn't find any outages elsewhere, so I figured it had to be the outlet itself and not a fuse. It's not one I use normally, so I noted it as an annoyance but didn't get around to looking at it further.

This weekend, an outlet in my kitchen died too. Again everything else in the room still has power. The two dead outlets are on the same wall with no switches or other outlets between them; I'd guess they're on the same run.

What's baffling to me is the delay. The second outlet definitely worked for quite awhile after the first died (it was home to the coffee-maker, so it got daily use).

As far as troubleshooting goes, a circuit tester shows open hot on both. Removing plates to check connections, then [carefully] multi testing the wiring to the boxes seems like the logical next step. I'm worried this is indicative of a deeper problem though. Is gradually losing outlets a symptom of any common or known issue?


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Old 08-16-2010, 10:00 AM   #2
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Where are you located ?
Any idea how old the wiring is ?
Age of house ?


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Old 08-16-2010, 10:46 AM   #3
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At this time you might as well turn off the power and open up the suspect outlet boxes, unscrew the receptacle unit from the box and gently pull it out. Check for loose connections.

Wires stuck into the back of the receptacle or switch are more likely to produce a dead connection as opposed to wires screwed on the sides, unless the wires in back are held by an internal clamp activated with more screws on the sides.
The good conscientious technician or serviceperson will carry extra oils and lubricants in case the new pump did not come with oil or the oil was accidentally spilled, so the service call can be completed without an extra visit.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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House is in Minnesota, built in 1911. Unfortunately I don't have any idea on the wiring; neither the previous owners nor the city had any records. I'm assuming "newer than 1911", if only because they're normal 3-prong outlets, but that's still a pretty big window of time.

I tested all the 3-prongs in the house when I moved in with a plug-in circuit tester (primarily to make sure they were all actually grounded) and both outlets in question tested correct.

Tidbits that may or may not be helpful to estimate wiring age:
* The city did have a record of panel upgrade to 100amp service, ~1955
* I was replacing a 2-prong with a GFCI (months ago, separate circuit) and discovered there was actually a ground wire; it just wasn't hooked up to anything. White, black, and bare were all in the same sheath.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:15 AM   #5
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It's a loose conenction. Check the dead receptacles. If you don't find a problem in them then check other working receptacles on the same circuit.
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