Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

No outlets in room work

  1. Jun 19, 2013 #1
    I have a room where no outlets work. The fuse looks ok. What are some things I can test for or look for before I call an electrician?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2013 #2

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Get an outlet tester from the local hardware store (they are really cheap) and back-track from there. Good luck.
     
  4. Jun 19, 2013 #3
    What information will that give me? I already know they don't work :)
     
  5. Jun 19, 2013 #4

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Is there a GFI switch on any of them (ground fault interrupt)? Try to push the button (usually has an 'R') to reset. Could be an outside outlet that is on the room circuit (which is normally a code violation around here) that has the GFI.
     
  6. Jun 19, 2013 #5

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    BTW, the most productive (and cheapest) way to test such a failure is to reset any breakers and see if that fixes your issue. Most modern homes don't have fuses, but breakers are ubiquitous. Give it a shot and tell us what happened.
     
  7. Jun 19, 2013 #6
    Greg,
    Receptacles are usually wired in a daisy-chain fashion. Wires enter a receptacle on the line side, feed the socket, then separate wires exit the receptacle on the load side to feed downstream receptacles.

    In the old days the line-side and load-side wires were attached to the receptacle using brass screw terminals, very reliable.

    At some point some builders decided they could save a few dollars in labor: receptacles became available with a push-in contact. All the electrician had to do was strip the wire and jam it in the hole, no bending the wire, no screwdriver. Problem is these are unreliable and opens are not uncommon after some years.

    Try this:
    Plug incandescent lights into the dead receptacles.
    Look at the layout of the room and try to guess which dead receptacle is at the "head" of the daisy-chain. Bang on the receptacle with your hand/fist and see if any light flashes on.

    Next, try to guess which *working* receptacle is just upstream of the chain of dead receptacles. Bang on it. (bad connection is just as likely the load-side feed from a "good" receptacle as it is the line-side wires feeding into the first "dead" receptacle).

    If this does not help, are you comfortable removing a receptacle and probing voltages with a multimeter?
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  8. Jun 20, 2013 #7
    Hi Greg,

    I just want to echo what Turbo said. Most of the time it's the fuse/breaker. Even though the fuse looks good, try taking out a fuse that you know works (with similar trip rating) and plug that one into the guilty circuit. Also, sometimes receptacles can be wired to a standard wall switch, check those out to ensure they're on (not to insult your intelligence!). I did electrical work for 6 years and anytime everything in a circuit stopped working, you could bet it was a switch/breaker/fuse.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!
    Jim
     
  9. Jun 20, 2013 #8

    berkeman

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    LOL. It can tell you stuff like you have an open ground, or reversed hot/neutral, stuff like that.
     
  10. Jun 21, 2013 #9

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    EMI guy's advice is sooooo perfect here....
    Try to imagine the room before the walls were covered - what's shortest distance between receptacles?

    Last time I had that trouble in one whole room it was an outlet in adjacent room, call it room zero.. Room zero's outlets all worked but all of next room over (room one) was daisy chained from that one outlet, and banging in room one didn't show it. I had to laboriously find it by individual inspection of everything in that whole part of the house..
    It was the infamous "Load Side Open" as described by EMI guy. Fortunately in the hot wire.
    In hindsight, the two receptacles were only about a foot apart , but in separate rooms on opposite sides of interior wall. Shoulda been obviouser than it was.. I put the wires back under the screws instead of the 'lazyman's push-in terminus.'

    The WalMart $5 outlet tester is great because it'll find an open neutral, too, which could be dangerous.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/21192894?...1=g&wl2=&wl3=21486607510&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem

    oops last year they were $5. But there's no inflation, right ?

    Anyway - get a tester and bang away at recaptacles on both sides of the walls before placing that call.

    old jim
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
  11. Jun 23, 2013 #10
    Bought an outlet tester and no light turned on when I plugged it into the sockets. The rooms next to it work and show hot/neu reverse.
     
  12. Jun 23, 2013 #11
    One outlet down stairs was open ground
     
  13. Jun 23, 2013 #12

    berkeman

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Got one word for you, son. Electrician. :smile:
     
  14. Jun 23, 2013 #13

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Those swapped H-N outlets ought to be fixed. It's a shock hazard when changing bulbs in lamps plugged into them - the tin colored base is "hot" even with switch off.
     
  15. Jun 24, 2013 #14

    OmCheeto

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    The fuse "looks" ok?
    Is it a screw in type?
    Have you tried unscrewing it and screwing it back in?
    If that doesn't fix it, do you have a multimeter to test it with?
    Or do as Jimbo57 stated, and simply swap fuses and see if the power goes out somewhere else.

    One last thing.
    When I bought my house, the electricity was turned off at the meter box.
    So I turned off all of the circuit breakers and called the electric company to have them turn it on while I was at work.
    When I got home from work, the house was incredibly warm.
    So I went into the kitchen and the burners on my stove were on high.
    How could that be, with all the breakers open?

    It turned out that the kitchen was powered by the original, fused box, hidden inside one of the lower kitchen cabinets. The rest of the house was powered by the breaker box.

    My house was built in 1945, and my guess is the breaker box was added during the 70's.

    ps. Good luck!
     
  16. Jun 24, 2013 #15

    dlgoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You're lucky. This is what I have to deal with in my parents old house.

    Knob_and_Tube_Wiring438-DFs.jpg
     
  17. Jun 25, 2013 #16

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    At least cables are kept properly distanced from the wood :wink:
     
  18. Jun 25, 2013 #17

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    hmmm - nobody said there's only one thing wrong.

    Are there any big loads in that room, say an airconditioner?
    I'm suspicious whether that reversed hot/neutral indication is a symptom of second open circuit in a neutral wire.
    Carefully check your "dead" room outlets for first zero voltage, then continuity between neutral slot and ground hole. If the wires to panel are intact it should read less than an ohm. You can make that test with breaker or fuse out if you like.



    Could be it's time to plug in a radio with volume set loud to a wall outlet in that room,
    start opening receptacles and switches for visual inspection of wires.
    Radio is to announce when you perturb a loose connection and power briefly flashes on.
    You want to see black wire into shorter of the two slots that's the hot
    it's always the brass colored screws, or rear push-in holes on that side
    longer slot is neutral, white wire to white screws,
    2012-05-05_032025_duplex.jpg
     
  19. Jun 25, 2013 #18

    dlgoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If only I could the wood as a safety ground. :biggrin:
     
  20. Jun 25, 2013 #19
    Thanks for all your help! I learned a little bit, but in the end we called an electrician to come out tomorrow :)
     
  21. Jun 25, 2013 #20

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Let us know what he finds !

    old jim
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: No outlets in room work
  1. Fans and Outlets help (Replies: 16)

Loading...