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Old 01-16-2011, 07:12 PM   #1
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Outlets not working


Hi all. Just found this site and have been appreciating all of the great topics. I'm currently experiencing an issue with three outlets on the same circuit. They won't power anything, yet when I run an AC voltage detector around the outlets, they all set it off, so there is current running to them.

I've gone ahead and replaced all three of the non-working outlets, as well as all other outlets in the circuit (had been planning to do that anyway, as the previous owner of the house was sloppy with paint), and still the problem persists. As best I can tell, the circuit contains nine outlets, three switches, three light fixtures and a hard-wired smoke detector split between two bedrooms and a hallway.

Any thoughts on what the trouble might be? Or what I can do to systematically troubleshoot the problem? I don't have schematic of the circuit, so I just have educated guesses as to the sequence of the boxes in it.

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Old 01-16-2011, 07:49 PM   #2
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Outlets not working


Sounds like you may have a poor neutral connection. Can you check for voltage between hot and neutral and hot to ground. A non-contact will not work for this. You will need a two probe tester or a meter.

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Old 01-16-2011, 07:58 PM   #3
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Outlets not working


I have a two probe tester and a multimeter, though I confess I'm not terribly proficient with the multimeter.

Where would I need to test this? At the non-working outlets?
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Old 01-16-2011, 09:15 PM   #4
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Outlets not working


If outlets are in series and somewhere in the middle is a GFI outlet, maybe it tripped? Any outlets after that one won't work. If so, reset by testing buttons on outlets.
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Old 01-16-2011, 09:17 PM   #5
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Outlets not working


There actually is no GFI outlet on this circuit.
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Old 01-16-2011, 09:28 PM   #6
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Outlets not working


Check between hot and ground and hot to neutral. Check the connections at the last working or first non-working receptacle.
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:27 AM   #7
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Outlets not working


First of all, thanks to the two of you for replying to my problem. Meant to say that last night.

Ok. Couldn't do much more last night, as two of the outlets are in the kids' room, and they were asleep. This morning I was able to check the hot to neutral and hot to ground on basically every outlet in the circuit. On the outlets that were already working, the voltage readings on hot to neutral and hot to ground were all ~120v. On the three non-working outlets, the readings were always 0.0. That indicates there is no current flowing to those outlets, correct? If so, my AC voltage detector is defective?

Anyway, that's where I am with it right now. Any further insight is appreciated.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:47 PM   #8
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Outlets not working


With voltage reading of 0 it sounds like a connection has failed on the hot. Check the backstabs if used. Often times the spring retention device has loosened and is not making contact. Move the wires to the screw terminals. Also check for a loose wire nut.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:59 PM   #9
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Outlets not working


Are you sure that the (3) outlets in question are in the same circuit as the ones that are working?? have you checked the panel to see if there are any breakers that are tripped??

are the (3) outlets at the end?? in the middle??

I use two types of testers when I am troubleshooting a problem.. with outlets, I use a plug in type that will light up and tell me if the plug is wired correctly. the other type is a pencil type tester that will glow at the tip if there is power. you can use these together to test your outlets..

also, have you pulled any of the working outlets to make sure that the wires leaving the box to the next is connected?? your problem might not be in the outlets that aren't working, but before.

good luck

rod

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Old 01-17-2011, 01:28 PM   #10
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Outlets not working


Jim,

I have connected all of the outlets via the side screws. Never have really cared for the backstabs. This one is perplexing. I can't tell exactly which is the last outlet before the bad ones. I have it isolated to two. Both of them work fine and give great voltage readings. None of these outlets are controlled by a switch. There are no wire nuts in any of the boxes. I've double checked the wire nuts on the smoke detector that is on the circuit. They appear to be fine. Where else might I encounter a wire nut? Do I need to recheck connections in the two ceiling fans on this circuit?

I've done enough detective work to determine that it's the last three outlets on the circuit. Beyond that, I'm stumped.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:39 PM   #11
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Outlets not working


Quote:
Originally Posted by rditz View Post
Are you sure that the (3) outlets in question are in the same circuit as the ones that are working?? have you checked the panel to see if there are any breakers that are tripped??

are the (3) outlets at the end?? in the middle??

I use two types of testers when I am troubleshooting a problem.. with outlets, I use a plug in type that will light up and tell me if the plug is wired correctly. the other type is a pencil type tester that will glow at the tip if there is power. you can use these together to test your outlets..

also, have you pulled any of the working outlets to make sure that the wires leaving the box to the next is connected?? your problem might not be in the outlets that aren't working, but before.

good luck

rod
Rod,

I'm reasonably certain that they're all on the same circuit. I've checked the panel, and all breakers are ok. These three outlets appear to be the last three in the circuit. Two of them have conduit going in and out, and the last one just has conduit coming in. Is that correct?

I'm not 100 percent certain which is the last outlet in the circuit BEFORE the problem outlets, but I believe I have it narrowed down to two, and they are both wired properly.

I have both types of testers you mention. Neither show any activity whatsoever when plugged into the three outlets in question.
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:01 PM   #12
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Outlets not working


check the outlets to make sure that you haven't got one that has been cut on the bridge between the HOT terminals. this would have been a split receptacle and with this bridge cut, will not transfer power out to the next outlet.. a quick way to check is to use the plug in tester on both top and bottom plugs for all outlets. if you have one live, and one dead, then you definitely have a split. (splits are typical in kitchens).

rod
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:09 PM   #13
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Outlets not working


You said you have conduit.
That could mean a j-box in the attic, and that could be where the loose connection is located.
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:22 PM   #14
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Rod,

I've checked both plugs on each outlet in the circuit. None appear to be split.

jb - i probably misspoke with my use of the term "conduit." It's standard household wiring. House was built in 1991.
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:25 PM   #15
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Outlets not working


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Rod,

I've checked both plugs on each outlet in the circuit. None appear to be split.

jb - i probably misspoke with my use of the term "conduit." It's standard household wiring. House was built in 1991.
Where are you located?
In Chicago conduit is the standard for wiring.

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