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gettingby 07-12-2012 10:46 AM

Shorted outlet
I've had no luck finding this specific topic, forgive me if I've missed it somewhere.
So here's the story.
I awoke and found I had no electricity to my room only. I bought an outlet tester and found two outlets which didn't work. I replaced those with new outlets but the breaker kept instantly tripping.
So I replaced the breaker. Still tripping constantly. I called the only halfway electrically-knowledged person I know and he could only share this: take each outlet back off, testing the breaker each time until it did not instantly trip, thus i'd found the shorted outlet.
So I did. The shorted outlet is behind the bed. It is a four-wire outlet, and having it taped off means that the outlet beneath the window has no power. The remaining two outlets and the light work now, but I have the electricity off to the room anyway because, obviously, I have no idea what to do now.
I cannot afford an electrician at this time, even if it means abandoning my bedroom. Is there any way I can cap off two of the wires and keep the two remaining which would allow the other outlet to work? Can I cap them all off and just use two outlets, making sure not to take dangerous chances with extension cords? Or must I simply keep electricity off to the room for a couple of months until I can afford someone to look at it?

jbfan 07-12-2012 10:55 AM

A receptacle very rarely shorts.
The problem could be a short in the wire from one receptacle to the other, cause by a nail, staple, or rodents.

When you say you have 4 wires, that means one incoming and one outgoing.
Disconect one set, reset the breaker, and see what happens.
If it trips, disconnect those wires and connect the other set.

You can cap off the wires and live with 2 receptacles if you want.

gettingby 07-12-2012 11:20 AM

I need to learn my terminology for future posts!
So...that's why I can't seem to get an answer past the outlet, because the chance of it beng the 'receptacle' is rare? Aah! Okay, so the 'receptacle' is the blue box with the wires that the outlet sits in? And...a receptacle with two neutral/two hot wires is known as one ingoing, one outgoing?
Appreciate the insight.

jbfan 07-12-2012 11:23 AM

A receptacle is the outlet.
The blue box is a box.
Most every time you have 2 sets of cables into a box, it is incoming and outgoing.
Is this receptacle controled by a switch anywhere?

Evstarr 07-12-2012 11:36 AM

Receptacles do fail occasionally especially behind beds where the connected plugs can get beat up by the bed frame.
Easiest way to see IMO is to replace the receptacle and only connect the line side or incoming conductors. Then the breaker back on.
If it pops, it's the wiring from the last outlet
If it stays on, turn it back off and connect the load side or outgoing wires.
If it stays on, it was the receptacle, if it pops, it is the wiring to the next outlet.

gettingby 07-12-2012 12:52 PM

I get you now.
The outgoing set of wires is the neutral/hot combo which gives electricity to the other outlet on the circuit. In this case, the outgoing wires are the top two.
Notably, whoever had wired this outgoing/ingoing outlet had the neutral and hot pairs reversed, says my outlet tester.
So the ingoing wires to the outlet behind my bed are now connected to the outlet. The outgoing wires which don't work, prohibiting use of the outlet under the window, will be taped and capped off.
One last question. Since the outlet beneath the window no longer works, do I need to tape and cap those wires as well, or, since there is no electricity going to it anyway, can I simply leave that outlet hooked up and just not use it?:thumbup:

jbfan 07-12-2012 02:28 PM

You can leave the receptacle alone since the other wires are capped off.

kevinp22 07-12-2012 02:56 PM

also keep in mind it may have insta tripped because when you replaced one of the receptacles youn accidentally connected white and black together, causing a direct short

Evstarr 07-12-2012 03:29 PM

Agreed. Now that the outlet behind the bed works correctly and the polarity is right, might try to reconnect the window run and see if it works now.

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