Outlets in Master bath just quit working

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  #1  
Old 02-15-06, 09:12 PM
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Outlets in Master bath just quit working

Hi All, I just joined the forum tonite - and have a question...

We live in a 24 year old single story wood frame house in Fresno, CA that is in very good condition (we're 2nd owners, of 5 years). The two outlets in our master bath simply (and mysteriously - no tripped breaker or GFCI) quit last night for no apparent reason. They are on a 20 amp circuit of five outlets that starts in our guest bath (2 outlets) which is where a GFCI is located, go to the garage for one outlet, then terminate in the master bath (two outlets). The only outlets that don't work are the two in the master bath. I reset the circuit breaker, checked the wiring on all outlets (wire nuts, all are secure) and reset the GFCI, all to no avail. The only thing I have constantly plugged in to the outlets are a Dremel tool (garage) and a Sonicare toothbrush in the master bath. We plug a 1500W electric heater in to one of the master bath outlets while in the bath and unplug it when we're done, that's about it for electric appliances.

Ideas? Could the GFCI be bad/need replacement? Is there somewhere else in the wiring/breaker box I should look?

Thanks in advance any and all help!

Jeff
 
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  #2  
Old 02-15-06, 09:25 PM
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backstabbed receptacles

Welcome to the forum. I hope it proves useful to you.

Originally Posted by eljefe
The two outlets in our master bath simply (and mysteriously - no tripped breaker or GFCI) quit last night for no apparent reason.
Okay.


> They are on a 20 amp circuit of five outlets that starts in our guest bath (2 outlets)
> which is where a GFCI is located, go to the garage for one outlet,
> then terminate in the master bath (two outlets).
> The only outlets that don't work are the two in the master bath.
> I reset the circuit breaker, checked the wiring on all outlets (wire nuts, all are secure)
> and reset the GFCI, all to no avail.
The problem would have to be between the garage and the master bath.
So be brave and do a live test of the brass-colored screws in the garage and the master bath.

Of course, if the wires are not under the screws at all, but rather stabbed into the back of the receptable, then one has burnt clear.

Replace the receptacles.


> We plug a 1500W electric heater in to one of the master bath outlets

Most likely the receptacle was backstabbed and it burnt clear (open circuit).

If you can't run a new circuit, at least use spec grade receptacles throughout (your circuit is only as strong as the weakest link). These can be safely backwired. Backstabs in cheap receptacles are trash.
 
  #3  
Old 02-15-06, 09:27 PM
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This is probably a simple fix. The most likely explanation is an open neutral, probably a backstab connection (wired poked into a hole) on one of the receptacles on the circuit. Other possible explanations are that the GFCI went bad, or that there is another GFCI on the circuit that you don't know about. All these are simple to fix, but could be time consuming.

An $8 outlet tester, available at any home center, will help narrow the possibilities by seeing if you have an open hot or an open neutral.
 
  #4  
Old 02-15-06, 09:58 PM
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Will get to it on the weekend and report back. BTW, I looked all over the house and unless there's another GFCI in the attic, the guest bath has the only one.

Thanks for some great ideas and a warm welcome to the forum!

Jeff
 
  #5  
Old 02-16-06, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by eljefe
I looked all over the house and unless there's another GFCI in the attic
Common GFCI hiding places are: garage (behind the heaviest stuff to move ), basement, outdoors, kitchens, and bathrooms.
 
  #6  
Old 02-18-06, 05:10 PM
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[QUOTE=bolide]

Of course, if the wires are not under the screws at all, but rather stabbed into the back of the receptable, then one has burnt clear.

Replace the receptacles.

Most likely the receptacle was backstabbed and it burnt clear (open circuit).



Yup. I'm learning, I'm learning... Found a burned open hot lead in second outlet in guest bath, across the wall from GFCI. Replaced old stab-in type outlet (looked like it was an original install item) this morning with screw-type outlet, and now everything is back to normal.

Thanks for the help!

Jeff
 
  #7  
Old 02-18-06, 07:28 PM
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Thanks for letting us know how it turned out.

Since you didn't neglect to mention that you had been running a heater from that circuit, it made guessing the cause a bit easier.

I don't know whether you were surprised by my guess.
But I don't know any serious electrician who uses backstabs (not to be confused with backwiring where the screw must be tightened which is great) other than maybe one or two who make excuses rather than making pigtails when there are too many wires to connect.

There is a reason we don't use them, and that is the high rate of failure.
So why does UL continue to approve them? I guess no one has gotten killed.


There was also a big problem with GFCI receptacles having line and load reversed. This has been corrected so that newer GFCIs won't reset unless they are correctly installed. I mention this because you should also verify one time that each GFCI receptacle in your house itself is actually cold after you press the TEST button.
 
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