inside outlet issues

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  #1  
Old 11-29-10, 01:13 PM
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inside outlet issues

Since we have moved into our house the outlets in the living room have not worked. We had our neighbor who is an electrician look at them and was unable to find anything wrong. Since then - the problem seems to be spreading into 2 other rooms or partial rooms. I was talking to a friend and they have the same problem. Can anyone help with this? I really can't afford to have an electrician come out. Is this dangerous? Any help you could give me would be appreciated.
 
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Old 11-29-10, 01:17 PM
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Have you looked to see if a switch controls some of the receptacles? Are these all on the same circuit? This might be as simple as one poor connection.
 
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Old 11-29-10, 01:28 PM
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If you can't find any mystery switches whose function is unknown are the wires on the receptacles inserted into the back or wrapped around the screws? Backstabbs though UL approved are known to be problematic.

Is you wiring aluminum?
 
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Old 11-30-10, 07:10 AM
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No my friend isn't a neighbor - it just is happening to her too and we thought it funny. If by switches you guys mean the fuse box switch then no - they are all on. as for other switches? not to my knowledge. The weirdest thing about this is it is spreading. 2 outlets that used to work in my daughters bedroom no longer do. Are they on the same circuit - I don't think so but will have to check on that. What should I do if they are? Should I also try pulling them out to reconnect the wires? Seems funny tho that all of these would be loose and if so then why did my electrician friend not find that? please help - its beginning to drive me nuts.
 
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Old 11-30-10, 07:40 AM
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One loose connection can wreck havoc with the circuit. The problem can be upstream of the non-working receptacles.
 
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Old 11-30-10, 09:23 AM
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If by switches you guys mean the fuse box switch then no - they are all on. as for other switches?
We meant other. Wall switches.

Tech Trivia: Fuse boxes don't have switches except maybe a main disconnect. I suspect you meant breaker box but the switch like devices in them are called breakers. In commercial settings specially rated breakers are sometimes used as switches but they are usually still called breakers.
 
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Old 11-30-10, 01:44 PM
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ok yes guys - by fuse box i did mean my breaker box. ok and as for switches you meant the actual switches - got it. no - no mystery switches. if one loose connection can be upstream how do i find it? yes if you haven't guessed already i am a single mom and i don't have a clue but i am worried about this spreading thing and i can't afford an electrician. if it was just going to mean these outlets don't work - fine - i could deal with that but now that it is spreading it is getting me a bit worried - fire?? can you help me solve this problem in english?
 
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Old 11-30-10, 02:36 PM
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if one loose connection can be upstream how do i find
To find the loose connection you start opening receptacles and checking connections. Any wires inserted into the back need to be moved to the screws. Any screws with wires under them need to be tested for tightness and examined for corrosion. Any wire nuts should be replaced.

Where you start is part guess, part instinct, part age of the wiring. The newer the wiring the more likely there will be some logic. With newer wiring start with the first working receptacle on the same breaker closest to the bad receptacle that is between the breaker box and the bad receptacle. Not a firm rule but you have to start somewhere.

Breaker box ----> working receptacle ---> bad receptacle ---> bad receptacle

In older wiring especially receptacle wiring may originate at the ceiling box of a light fixture and of course receptacles added on later, more likely in an older house may have no discernible logic in routing. You will need to pull light fixtures and check connections and replace wire nuts. Same goes for any switches on the affected circuit. Any wire nuts need to be replaced.

Note: I have suggested replacing wire nuts with new ones. Some will say just check. My opinion is some problems may not be apparent from just a check so just replace them.

If you have aluminum wiring post back. This will require special procedures.
 
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Old 12-01-10, 11:51 AM
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thank you very much ray - i will try it this weekend and let you know how i made out. Wish me luck!
 
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Old 12-01-10, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Twinsinpa View Post
thank you very much ray - i will try it this weekend and let you know how i made out. Wish me luck!
These things always need a bit of luck. That is why the pros have to charge the big bucks. No way to know how long it will take to find the "luck". You just have to hang in there.
 
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Old 12-01-10, 02:08 PM
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Twinsinpa: PLease make sure you shut off the circuit breaker/fuse to the circuits you are working on; touching the bare ends of the wires while live can kill.
 
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Old 12-02-10, 06:15 AM
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oh my goodness Bob - thankyou. Hopefully I would've realized that! Jeez - this is sure going to be alot of running back and forth for me! aaahhhh

I still don't understand how it could be "spreading" like this.
 
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Old 12-02-10, 09:25 AM
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I still don't understand how it could be "spreading" like this
If the receptacles are low quality and backstabbed years of heating and cooling when the receptacles are used could be causing them to fail. Something in the air or just moisture could be causing corrosion.build up. If they are aluminum the corrosion factor is even more likely. Or it could be none of the above. Maybe the wires are on the screws and it is copper and the screws have just loosened over the years.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-02-10 at 11:22 AM.
  #14  
Old 12-02-10, 10:10 AM
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Every time you plug something in or flip a switch it causes some small stress on the receptacle or switch. After years of daily use the connections can wiggle loose. Sometimes a big force like tripping on a cord or pulling the vacuum cord really hard can get it started.
 
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