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G19-Fanatic 08-22-2006 04:35 PM

Problem W/ Power after Switching Outlets...
Hello, I have a bit of a problem. I have applied a new coat of paint on my walls in one of my rooms in my house. I decided that I wanted to put new outlets in all 4 outlets in the room.

I shut off the power from the breaker box to the room(2 breakers, one for lighting fixture and one for the outlets). I took off the outlets, put new ones on and turned on the power to the room. No power to the outlets, there is power to the lighting fixture.

W/ a voltmeter, I tested the breakers to make sure they are working properly and they are. I tested the power in the room (not from the outlets, but from the wiring) to see if there was power. No Power.

What could the problem be? Did i accidently break a wire when I was pulling the outlets out (i did it gently)? If I did break a wire, what would be the easiest way to fix this problem? I am running 15A breakers with 12g wire. Could I just tie into the lighting fixtures power? It is just a bedroom and I only run 1 desk light and another fan in the room.

Any ideas?


jwhite 08-22-2006 06:01 PM

When you pulled the outlets out, how many wires were on each one?

How old is the wiring? What kind of covering is on the wire, plastic, metal, cloth? I am asking about the outer sheath of the cable.

Is there a full size ground wire in the cable?

I am asking to get a feel for the age and use of the wire.

While you could have broken a wire, I suspect that you just have a loose connection somewhere.

If you take all the outlets back out and separate the wires, then test for continuity between the whites and grounds, you should be able to fine out which cable is closest to the panel. (as the wire flies, not as the crow flies). Next turn the breaker back on and carefully test this cable for voltage. Go from there.

If your wires are pigtailed in the box so that only the tails attach to the recepticle then you may have a loose connection in one of those wirenuts. Check each one. This is a likely place to find an open. The wires get nicked when they are stripped and then break at the nick later. If you find this problem take apart and re make the connections.

Be sure to post back and let us know what you find out.

MinConst 08-22-2006 06:53 PM

It may also be possible that there is a GFCI before these 4 duplex outlets that has tripped. I have seen where some have pulled power from someplace like a bath or kitchen and added outlets to other rooms. Worth a look.

Donedat 08-22-2006 08:20 PM

Also, you have to make sure you are continuing the circuit through each outlet to the next. Determine which outlet is in primary position and then hook it up first. Then find the second one and hook it up and on down the list until you complet the circuit. Having a simple test light will help bunches.

KUIPORNG 08-23-2006 08:21 AM

the source outlet you used to draw power from is the one you should do testing... it most likely be middle of a chain, therefore, you will see 2 sets of wires, you should test if one of it has power ... to start the investigation... if none of the sets has power, then you have a bigger problem on hand...

J187 08-23-2006 12:35 PM

Sounds silly, but are you certain the breaker reset properly? You should first try to reset the breaker for you do anything else. It's very possible the breaker didn't catch all the way.

G19-Fanatic 08-23-2006 12:51 PM

thanks all for the quick responses
Heres the info you guys are looking for

I havent really had the time to check all of what you guys have suggested yet but that will be done today

I will check and reset the GFCI in the bathroom(that is the only one I have upstairs). I really cannot see the outer sheathing of the cables, they are in the wall and I will probably have to cut the sheetrock to get a better look.

All 4 outlets have 2 sets of wires coming to them and 1 ground except for one which only has 1 set coming and a ground. The ground is bare and looks to be a smaller gauge wire than the main ones.

I have no idea about which one is the source/lead outlet in the series but I have yet to do the white wire and ground testing to try to determine (short of cutting into the wall to see which one is the lead).

I have taken other breakers from parts that work and switched them with the ones to the bedroom. I have reset them almost 10 times and tried to see if something worked but no avail...

Here is what I am goin to do today and I will get back to you guys.
I am going to first try to test to see which outlet is the lead by following jwhite instructions. If I can get that one to work then everything else will fall into place. If I can't find which one is the lead, I will be forced to cut into the wall to find out(unless someone else has any ideas that dont involve cutting into newly painted walls).

If the outlets do follow each other around the room in a circular pattern and the outlet that has only 1 pair of wires is the end of the series then I have 2 potential walls that might be the lead. If it would help, I could even put up a pic of the layout of my room(where the door, outlets, switch and pairs of wires are) to see if someone else has any ideas.

Well im off to try these. I will post about it later tonight.

THanks for the help guys

jwhite 08-23-2006 01:16 PM

At least 1/4 inch of the outer sheath of the cable should be visible inside the box.

G19-Fanatic 08-23-2006 01:26 PM

by outer shealth, you mean the Gray in the attached image?

redline 08-23-2006 01:36 PM

Are these outlets on the first floor or the second floor?
Do you have a basement?

jwhite 08-23-2006 02:03 PM


Originally Posted by G19-Fanatic
by outer shealth, you mean the Gray in the attached image?


KUIPORNG 08-23-2006 02:15 PM

I am glad that I did that for my wiring projects,,, not intensional ,... but did it anyway, what other small techniques need to follow besides these I am aware of:

- the metal box must be grounded
- wire must be clamped within x " of the device box
- shouldn't see bare hot/neutral wire (I mean a bit is ok)

how about how secure the device box being clamped onto the stucks?for outlets... any rule? as outlet need to plug unplug all the time, does it need to be clamped four sides or two sides or one side is enough, or doesn't matter as long as you feel like it...

not trying to highjet this, but thinks many DIY want to know..

J187 08-23-2006 02:52 PM

Kui****g - even the remodeline boxes that clamp onto the other side of drywall are ok. The metal boxes that go in with the remodeling side clamps that wrap around them are not nearly as secure as a screwd-in box would be yet are still acceptible.

J187 08-23-2006 03:12 PM

G19, when you say you tested the room for power, do you mean you tested all 4 outlets, both top and bottom? If not, you should do this. Its possible that your source comes into say outlet 1 and if the hot lead on that outlet is not connected properly, none of the other outlets might get power. Power is continued in the circuits through the receptacles, if it stops at one, any subsequential receptacles will not receive their power.

Also, inspect the outlets to see if perhaps one of them has the metal tab that connects the two screws missing. If the source power came into an outlet that had the metal tab removed, and then the circuit was continued through the outlet, the hot lead would not be able to continue.

joed 08-23-2006 04:40 PM

The problem is almost always in a junction box. Unless you have rats or have been pounding nails for pictures etc. the wires in the wall won't just fail. it is always a connection that has come loose. Of course you could have some splices in the wall that some prevoius idiot installed.

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