Vaccuum, Powerless Outlets & Untripped Breaker

Reply

  #1  
Old 10-18-04, 07:17 PM
MelloYello
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Vaccuum, Powerless Outlets & Untripped Breaker

I apologize if this has already been covered, but I am curious to why the 7 outlets in my basement are not working now.
I plugged in a vaccuum cleaner the other day (vaccuum's switch was set to "ON") and suddenly everything that was plugged into those receptacles went dead.
Naturally, I expected a tripped breaker, but there was not. I reset it anyway and then checked the outlet w/ a 2 wire tester (black & red). The 7 outlets on that breaker do not work, I also replaced the receptacle that the vaccuum was on, but still no power. I then replaced the breaker, still no power. The house was built in 1991 and there are no GFCI's on this breaker.
What is the deal?

Thank you in advance.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 10-18-04, 08:57 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
This has been covered many, many times before, but that's all right. Most likely you have an open neutral. That can be confirmed with an $8 plug-in outlet tester. This type of failure is very, very often caused exactly by a vacuum cleaner. The high current draw of a vacuum creates enough heat to open up a poor connection. These poor connections are most often backstabbed connections, which are wires poked into a hole in the back of a receptacle. The solution is to check every receptacle on the circuit, starting with the dead ones and then moving on to the nearby live ones (yes, the problem can be at a receptacle which is working just fine). Move all backstab connections, especially of the white wire, to the adjacent screw. It's easy but time consuming and it requires persistence.
 
  #3  
Old 10-19-04, 09:10 AM
MelloYello
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thank you John for the fast response. I purchased the tester and it read: Open Hot. In other words, no lights lit up at all on the tester.

I assume I need to do as you said and check the dead receptacles, then the live ones. Is it rare for a vaccuum cleaner to cause an Open Hot?
 
  #4  
Old 10-19-04, 09:15 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
With an open hot, you should check the breaker first. Push it hard off and then hard on. Then check for a tripped GFCI. Receptacles in unfinished basements are required to be GFCI protected, so unless this is a really old house, there's a GFCI somewhere. It's often on a receptacle in the garage.

Only after ruling out the two things above should you follow my previous advice, and the failure will be on a black wire rather than a white wire.

But my money is on a GFCI in the garage.
 
  #5  
Old 10-19-04, 10:11 AM
MelloYello
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I just checked the GFCI in the garage and it works, but still no power to the 7 basement outlets. It's a finished basement, house was built in '91.

I have already replaced the breaker, so I guess the next step would be to check each dead receptacle?

There are also 2 GFCI's in the kitchen, I checked those to and they are working properly.
 
  #6  
Old 10-19-04, 11:12 AM
MelloYello
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Okay, I just checked the 7 outlets and only found 1 ground wire that had come disconnected. I checked each connection especially the black wire connection. Everything seems tight and well connected.

Is it possible there is a bad receptacle within these 7? Would that cause this?

The tester is reading that the other outlets in the house are Correct. This is frustrating.

Thanks in advance for any additional ideas.
 
  #7  
Old 10-19-04, 11:16 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Now you need to check the other receptacles on the circuit. Yes, I mean the working ones. Yes, I also mean the ones that the tester says are correct. Yes, I mean all of them. If they all check out okay, check any switch boxes, fixture boxes, and junction boxes too.

If you haven't already moved the backstab connections, do it now. Checking them isn't enough.

Don't give up on the GFCI. I still consider it a strong possibility that this is a tripped GFCI that you haven't yet located.
 
  #8  
Old 10-19-04, 11:27 AM
MelloYello
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I did fail to mention that these 7 outlets are on the same breaker and there is nothing else on this breaker.

The label actually says: Basement, 7 Outlets.

But I will begin checking the other receptacles if this is a possible solution. Also keep my eyes open for another GFCI.

Thanks.
 
  #9  
Old 10-19-04, 11:38 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You can't trust the panel label.

If you really have checked all the boxes on this circuit, then there's only one left to check--the panel. But since you said that you already replaced the breaker, this doesn't seem likely (unless you didn't do a good job).

Finally, although very rare, you might have damaged the cable inside the walls.

Did you move all the backstabs?

Check again for a GFCI. Look hard. Move storage and furniture and look behind it.
 
  #10  
Old 10-19-04, 03:48 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,599
Did you check the neutral in the panel? Changing the breaker is only the hot wire. Neutral have been known to be loose in the panel.
 
  #11  
Old 10-19-04, 05:20 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Joe, his tester indicates an open hot.
 
  #12  
Old 10-20-04, 03:13 PM
MelloYello
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thumbs up Found a Hidden GFCI - It works!

Thank you John for all your help. I took a flashlight and walked around the basement looking behind everything... and suddenly after moving a door that we never use... I spotted a GFCI!!! hehe

Anyway, it was a learning experience and I will know what to do next time. Thanks again. This is a great forum.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'