Domino Effect??

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  #1  
Old 05-13-04, 08:25 PM
keithkaz
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Domino Effect??

I plugged a vacuum cleaner into one of the outlets in my bedroom and turned the vacuum cleaner on. After a couple of minutes the vacuum and all of the other wall outlets in the bedroom went dead. Also, a wall switch in the bathroom will not work (apparently on the same circuit) now either. I checked all the outlets with a voltage tester and I get a very faint light - not steady or bright - on each outlet but they do not work at all when I try to turn on lights that are plugged into them.

The outlet I plugged the vacuum into seems to be the first outlet in the circuit since it is closest to the breaker box. Is it possible that this outlet is bad and if so, can it cause all the other outlets to stop working. I checked the circuit breakers and all appear to be fine. None had been tripped.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.
 
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Old 05-13-04, 08:42 PM
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Double check the breakers. A breaker that is tripped could look like it is on. Turn the breakers to off, then back on to be sure. When you are sure that all the breakers are good you can start the search for the bad splice. Check all the dead outlets first and look for a loose and/or burned connection. If you see anything that looks back & burned by probably have found the source of the problem.
 
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Old 05-13-04, 08:56 PM
keithkaz
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I had already double checked the breakers as you described. I'll inspect each outlet in the morning and see if what turns up. Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 05-13-04, 09:20 PM
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We've seen this report many times. And the story always seems to involve a vacuum cleaner. Maybe we should just quit vacuuming.

The problem is almost always a failed backstab connection, and for reasons that I can never quite explain, the failed connection is almost always on a white wire (rarely on a black wire). Shut off the breaker. Then pull out all of the non-working receptacles on the circuit and move any wires using backstabbed connections (made by sticking wires in holes) to the adjacent screws. If that would require putting two wires under one screw (because there is already a wire on that screw), then use a wire nut and a pigtail (short piece of wire) to make the connection with only one wire under the screw.

After you do the non-working receptacles, you'll probably have to do the nearby working receptacles too.
 
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Old 05-14-04, 05:33 AM
keithkaz
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Why not just replace all of the non-working receptacles with new ones?
 
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Old 05-14-04, 07:38 AM
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You could certainly do that, but you would undoubtedly replace things that have no problems with them, and you only have a 50/50 chance of even correcting the problem with this approach. As I said earlier, the problem could be (and very often is) in one of the boxes with a working receptacle. The problem is most likely not with a device, but with a connection.
 
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Old 05-14-04, 08:24 AM
keithkaz
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John, you were right on target!

The receptacle that I had plugged the vacuum cleaner into was the culprit. As you predicted, one of the white wires showed signs of damage and that turned out to be the problem. I disconnected the "back-stabbed" wires and connected them to the screws on the sides of the receptacle and presto!

The outlet I re-wired and all other outlets and switches on the circuit are now working fine. Thanks for your expert guidance.
 
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