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Old 03-11-2010, 07:08 PM   #1
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outlet problem


I have an outlet that i use regularly, and out of the blue it stopped working; not sure why???
I checked the circuit breaker and everything looked normal, I even pressed the reset button on the gfi in the bathroom and still no power to the outlet.
The wiring was very simple, one black, one white, and a ground. I bought a new outlet and tried installing it and still no luck. The old outlet was a 15A and the new outlet is a 20 A; will this make a difference? Can someone please help?

thanks

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Old 03-11-2010, 07:12 PM   #2
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outlet problem


IF your circuit is 15A, a 20A outlet will WORK, but it is against code (and just not a good idea). Do you have a meter that you can use to test voltage at the outlet? Most likely you have a connection broken somewhere. Anything else on that circuit also not working?

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Old 03-11-2010, 07:13 PM   #3
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outlet problem


Is it a 15a circuit or a 20a circuit ?
A 15a (20a pass thru) can be on a 20a circuit
A 20a outlet can't be on a 15a circuit

Where is this outlet located ?
Did you make sure the breaker is not tripped ?
Some are tripped but do not seem to be
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:34 PM   #4
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outlet problem


it is a 15a circuit, the outlet is located behind the couch in the living room.

I had flipped the circuit to off then to on again. other things on the circuit work just fine. I will be borrowing a volt meter tomorrow and get back to you.

thanks
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:39 PM   #5
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outlet problem


Could be a loose wire at another outlet

Are they back-stabbed outlets or is the wire wrapped around the screw ?
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #6
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outlet problem


Yeah, those backstab connections are horrible. I'd check every outlet on the circuit and check for loose wires, and use the screw connectors.

Or you could replace outlets you come across that DO have the backstab connections with the newer kind - where you back-wire under a clamp, and tighten the screw to hold it in.
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Old 03-12-2010, 06:29 AM   #7
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outlet problem


I would find replacing all the electrical outlets in the circuit, in the hopes of finding the problem device, frustrating. My suggestion is to purchase or borrow a voltage meter and using it to identify where the problem is, then fix that problem. Without a volt meter (or even a simple voltage probe), troubleshooting this problem is a shot in the dark.
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Old 03-12-2010, 06:48 AM   #8
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outlet problem


Just before you found the outlet dead, do you remember what other outlet you plugged or unplugged something at? The latter outlet could be where the loose connection is.

Another test, not sure fire. Plug a light into the dead outlet and switch the light to on. Then jiggle other outlets (insert a plug or push with your thumb) and see if the light blinks.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:00 PM   #9
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outlet problem


Thanks for the help. I tested other outlets on the circuit and sure enough it was a loose connection to a backstab connection type outlet. I replaced it with new outlet with a screw type.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:02 PM   #10
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outlet problem


Glad you fixed it!
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:39 PM   #11
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outlet problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
IF your circuit is 15A, a 20A outlet will WORK, but it is against code (and just not a good idea)...
Can a 20A prong be plugged into the outlet (i.e. is one of the prong holes in the shape of a "T")?

If so, then it would indeed be a code violation to allow a 20A device to be plugged into a 15A circuit.

But if the outlet is RATED for 20A, but only has the standard 15A "I" prong pairs, then it's ok to have that type of 20A outlet on a 15A circuit.

When an outlet is RATED for 20A, that means you can install it on a 20A circuit, but the shape of the prong holes will only allow you to plug in a 15A device.
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:47 PM   #12
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outlet problem


Iif you use a 20a outlet on a 15a circuit, wouldn't it just trip the breaker if more than 15a is drawn? Why exactly does the NEC prohibit 20 amp devices on a 15a circuit? Just in case the breaker is faulty?
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:56 PM   #13
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outlet problem


If you use a 20A outlet wit the "T" slot this promotes the use of a 20A device on a 15A circuit. There is no reason to ever need a t-slot receptacle on a 15 amp circuit.

But, yes, it should just trip the breaker if you plugged in a 20A device. It would lead to confusion in the future, which is probably why it's in the code.

There may also be a safety issue I'm missing.
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mopowers View Post
Iif you use a 20a outlet on a 15a circuit, wouldn't it just trip the breaker if more than 15a is drawn? Why exactly does the NEC prohibit 20 amp devices on a 15a circuit? Just in case the breaker is faulty?
Because things are not perfect, code attempts to promote "safe" practices. Since it's not safe to attempt to run a 20A device on a 15A circuit, the code doesn't allow "T" type 20A outlets on a 15A circuit.

For one thing, circuit breakers are not perfect. That's to say that a 15A breaker isn't going to trip the moment 15.1A of power is pulled. And because breakers are not perfect, it's foolish to setup a situation where you have to "RELY" on the breaker to keep you safe under "normal" operations.

Stated another way, if a circuit is designed to handle 15A safely, it's foolish to add something to the system that would allow you to easily exceed safe limits.


Now the part I can't understand is why the industry is allowed to make 1850 watt hair dryers yet use only a standard 15A plug? Assuming 120v, 1850 watts = 15.4A. No wonder I get nusance trips in the bathroom (built years ago with only a 15A circuit) when I run my hair dryer AND have the nerve to want to run some lights as well.

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