Lost electrical along circuit


Old 06-21-05, 09:42 AM
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Question Lost electrical along circuit

I recently lost power to ONLY the lower outlet on one plug in my kitchen Now I have noticed the next outlet on that circuit has stopped working, the next light switch has stopped working and the last light switch on that circuit isn't working. Seems all from that outlet on stopped when that one quit. Could this be repairable by fixing the lower plug on the first outlet that went out? Originally had a water fixture plugged into that lower part of the outlet..then noticed a white buildup around the area it was plugged into! Could moisture following the cord have caused a short? No reset switches are built into this system. All shorted electrical are on the same kitchen designated breaker, separate from the breakers for my stove or refridgerator (those are fine). The breaker itself has not been tripped.
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Old 06-21-05, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Are you in Canada, the U.S., or somewhere else?

I would initially suspect a tripped GFCI, but there are several other possibilities too.
Old 06-21-05, 11:55 AM
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I am located in the US. Everything on this particular breaker is 110V and used for kitchen and breakfast lights, light outside the kitchen door and appliances. I am a beginner at DIY electrical so you need to explain what the GFCI is. I suspect GFCI is the reset button for outlets now used in bathrooms and kitchens but this home is about 20 years old and there are none. Should I try turning the breaker off then on again to see if it helps the outlet and switches farther along the circuit from the one that seems to be stopping the current or could this be dangerous to the outlet that quit originally. Note that the top plug in the outlet still works, it is the bottom one that has stopped working (is this unusual when there is a short?). Thanks!!
Old 06-21-05, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
If your home is only 20 years old, you certainly have GFCIs. You just don't know where they are yet. A GFCI is a receptacle with TEST and RESET (sometimes T and R) buttons, or a breaker with a TEST button. Check the garage first. Then the basement. Then the front and back porches. Then the crawl space. Then all the bathrooms.

If you find them and reset them and the problem doesn't go away, then go to your home center and spend $8 on an outlet tester, a device that plugs in and has three lights on it. You may have an open neutral, but I don't want to jump to that conclusion yet, especially for someone with limited electrical experience. Let's get the tester first.

Of course, shut off the breakers and turn them back on again, even if they don't look tripped. And make sure the outlet in question is not controlled by a wall switch.
Old 06-21-05, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,675
If only half a receptacle stopped working it is not likely a GFCI as this is a split receptacle. Have you checked your breaker panel for a tripped breaker. It might not look tripped. Turn it off and back on.
Old 06-28-05, 09:51 PM
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Hi! Thank you so much for the help.... We checked the voltage in the first outlet and found that there was a short in the lower half. We found that the lower outlet WOULD work when wiggled and then all the other outlets and lights would work. We replaced the old outlet with a new one, since there was obviously a short inside the unit itself and now everything works perfectly. I really appreciate your advice!
Old 06-29-05, 05:12 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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Not to split hairs, but you did not have a short in the receptacle. A short is an improper connection between power and the return path. It results in an overload and a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse.

The receptacle you replaced either simply wore out (which does happen, especially with heavily used receptacles) or became corroded (which also can happen). This resulted in an open circuit (or open connection). The open could have been either the hot wire or the return wire or both.
Old 06-29-05, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: CA
Posts: 2,041
The circuit wiring often "leapfrogs" from one receptacle to the next. At the last receptacle on your circuit which still has power, you will probably find a loose connection; either in a twisted connector, or especially if the wires are "backstabbed" into the back of the receptacle. Replace that receptacle with the type which uses clamp-type backwire rather that the "stabbed".

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