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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 2943
Experience:  29 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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I've got a set of outlets in the basement that suddenly

Customer Question

Hi, I've got a set of outlets in the basement that suddenly don't work. All breakers are correct (I turned every on off and on again twice to be sure). All GFIs are tested and reset. There are 16 outlets down there. 8 work, 8 don't. The 8 that don't, were working fine up to a week or so ago (not exactly sure when they went out, but definitely very recent).
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?
Customer: About a week
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: Preferably.
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: Not that I can think of...
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Do you have a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester (a contact type) or a multi-meter available? You will need one of these testers to troubleshoot the problem. Most likely a loose termination of a faulty wire splice in the circuit.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Hi Kevin,
No. I guess I have to go get one :)
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Yes, you will need one in order to continue and locate the problem. Whenever troubleshooting an electrical problem, a multi-meter is a must have tool.

Perhaps you can borrow a tester from a neighbor or a friend? If not, multi-meters are sold at any Home Depot or Lowe's for $25 or less.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Okie doke. Once I have it, I guess I use it on each of the non-working outlets and get back to you with the results?
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Yes, just reply back to me at this same question once you obtain a meter

Take the following voltage measurements at a few of the dead receptacles and let me know the results and we can continue. See diagram shown below:

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks..................Kevin:)

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I haven't had a chance to get the meter to test yet. As soon as I do (probably over the weekend), I will let you know the results.
Thanks for your patience.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

OK, no problem. Once you obtain a meter, just reply back to me here on this same question and we can continue. I will be logged on the web site all weekend.

Thanks...........Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks..................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks..................Kevin:)

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Ok, so I finally got to check with the meter. There is no power from any of the outlets. I assume the next step is to pull each outlet and check for loose/disconnected wires? I'm concerned about this because if it is just a loose wire, now I'm exposing live wires.We just moved into this house and the circuit breaker isn't fully labeled, so I have no idea which breaker(s) are for these outlets. So will I have to shut the whole house off first and then check each plug and turn the breakers on again for each one? Or is it reasonably safe to just hook the wire back up?Or are there any special tools I need to be safe without having to run back and forth from the basement (where the outlets are) to the garage (where the breakers are)?Thanks.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

OK, good job on getting the meter.

1) Before pulling receptacles, we 1st must confirm which wire is causing the problem. Will either be a loose hot or a loose neutral wire.

2) Do you have access to a 3 prong extension cord?

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) Since the panel directory is not properly labeled, I suggest to create a circuit map. See attachment below for an example:

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) Once a circuit map is created, re-label the panel directory as necessary.

2) Then locate a 3 prong extension cord and plug it into another known working receptacle. You will use the 3 prong female end of the cord at a few of the dead receptacles and compare the cord hot and neutral to the dead receptacle hot and neutral. This will confirm which receptacle wire is causing the problem.

See attachment shown below:

3) Set your meter to the AC voltage and use the 200 volt range. Place 1 meter probe to the dead receptacle short slot (hot) and the 2nd meter p[robe to the extension cord wide slot (neutral). If you measure 120 volts, then the problem is a neutral issue.

4) Next is to reverse the measurements. Place 1 meter probe to the dead receptacle wide slot (neutral) and the 2nd meter probe to the extension cord small slot (hot). If you measure 120 volts, then you have a hot wire issue.

5) Once you know which wire is causing the problem, then it is time to perform a visual inspection by backing the receptacles out from the box and look for a faulty splice or a loose wire. Make sure you turn the breaker OFF prior to backing the receptacles out from the box. Do not disconnect any wires at the receptacle boxes.

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) I also suggest trying the following Wiggle Procedure:

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