Electrical Repair Questions? Ask an Electrician for Answers ASAP
You have a circuit with dead outlets and maybe some dead lights on it or you’re experiencing flickering on a circuit. You will need a 2 wire voltage tester to check the outlet. A Multimeter or a Volt/Con are suggested. I prefer the Volt/Con because there are no settings to make, it does continuity and is audible. Success begins with knowing what you’re looking for.
1] No voltage reading between the hot and the neutral or ground indicates an open hot.
2] No reading between the hot and the neutral but 120V between the hot and ground and 120V between the neutral and ground indicates an open neutral.
3] No continuity between the neutral and ground – Check for tripped GFCI device first
4] If all the branch circuit breaker are on you have a bad connection on the hot or neutral wires. The usual cause is a bad connection, either a termination on a device or connection in a wire nut.
Over the years I’ve found the easiest way to locate the opening needing examination and correction is to wiggle the devices.
5] The first step in this exercise is to get a lamp to act as an alert. Make sure the lamp works and in the on position. You may also use something like a vacuum cleaner or blow dryer, for an audible alert. Don’t use anything electronic, like a radio.
6] Plug it into a dead outlet.
7] Now with a cube tester or any plug you will need to go to all the dead outlets and any live outlets in the area, insert the plug and wiggle the device side to side slightly. Watch the test lamp or listen for the other alerts as you wiggle the devices.
If the loose or bad connection is present the wiggle action may make it contact briefly and the lamp or the other things will alert you . Having found the suspected outlet all that is left is to correct the bad connection.
If the device is a push back wired device, this probably is the cause of the circuit failure. All wires must be terminated under the screws. Also you should never put more than one wire under a screw.
This troubleshooting procedure works in most cases and won’t have you open boxes un-necessarily. Keep in mind that the problem is in one of two places in the circuit, either in the first dead outlet or the live outlet just ahead of it.
This sounds like something we can handle, Mike. We're certainly giving it a try. It will be absolutely wonderful beyond highest hopes if it does work, and we're back in business. You just can't imagine. Is there anything else for me to know?
Say, Mike - Uh, I need to save this beautiful answer, but of all times, when bookmarking lately, my pc tends to lock up & I have to do an 'alt-ctl-delete' to exit the browser & come back in to function in the website. Do you have any ideas on how I can 'copy' the above text? It's a lot of print to hand copy, but I will if I have to. Just a wee little complication here. Don't give a second thought if you can't. And by the way - my feedback regarding your help will be 'beyond commendable,' and thanks so very much again. What an amazing way to help people. God bless! Liz Russell
I got it to work this time! Everything's in order now. Mike, I'll be back at this site in the near future re another (more minor) matter. Will be noting your profile here before leaving, and hope to keep up with you. You're to the point and understandable. I'll try for you the next go-round as my guru of choice. Thx again! Liz
With great pleasure I shall refer to you. And with recommendations, as well. You instill confidence and deserve an entry in the address book! Stay right where you are - we need you. Bye, Mike! Attachments are only available to registered users.Register Here
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