Plugs that were working are no longer working


Old 07-30-11, 09:59 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Canada
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Plugs that were working are no longer working

Hello - to start off, I'll admit that I know absolutely nothing about electrical and it's the one area of DIY that I've been avoiding - but now is the best time as any.

I'll give some history:
1) We bought a place a few months ago that was build in 1969 and was converted to a statafied duplex a few years ago (separate wiring, plumping, etc...).
2) The two plugs in particular were both fine - one plug had a surge protector power bar inserted that had a TV and PVR box attached. The other plug on the same wall had only an universal remote charger attached.
3) Today, I completed the hookup of my entertainment system and added a SONY receiver to the power bar and an Xbox 360. When I tried to turn the system on, it didn't work (everyone just shut off). This also caused the universal remote charger in the other plug to stop working. Note that the total amperage of the units attached was less than 15 Amps.
4) I plugged in a lamp to see if that would work, but no luck.
5) With the lamp plugged in and turned on, I switched off/on the labelled breakers but that didn't have any effect.
6) I then turned off/on ALL the breaker switches and that didn't do anything.

I confirmed with the prior owner that:
1) The sockets would not be part of the adjourning duplex's circuit (thereby requiring her circuit panel to be checked)
2) There is only one circuit panel on our side of the building
3) The plugs are NOT GFCI
4) There are no switches that control the plugs on the walls nearby (sometimes, wall switches can shut off plugs for some reason...still don't get that).

As mentioned, I don't know anything about electrical stuff, so any suggestions/tips/feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 07-30-11, 10:30 PM
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Location: Hamilton County, Ohio
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Usually the problem is one of two things. Either a breaker or a GFCI. Since you checked all the breakers, have you searched the your entire duplex for GFCI's? There may be one in another room which is on the same circuit as the receptacles which went dead.

Many places, including mine, have wall switches which control half of a receptacle. Say the room does not have a ceiling light. A table lamp plugged into a switched receptacle will light the room when you walk in and flip the switch.
Old 07-30-11, 10:50 PM
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My first thought would be the other duplex regardless of what you were told.
Old 07-30-11, 11:26 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 2
I went next door to the other duplex (when the owner returned home) and all her breakers were fine - the plugs that match up to the two on my side that are toast were both working on her side.

I'll check all the plugs for the GFCI info, but so far these are the only two plugs that don't work.

Ok, this is a bit bizarre:

1) When I plug a device into the plug near my TV upstairs, it shuts off the power to two upstairs plugs (as mentioned in my original post) AND to the room below.
2) However, after unplugging the connector from the upstairs plug and then plugging a lamp into a certain plug in the room downstairs, it all comes back on again (except for the TV one).

According to the previous owner, he didn't have any of these issues...
Old 07-31-11, 01:38 AM
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First thing to do is open up the "mystery" receptacles and look for anything obvious. Then post a detailed description of all the wiring in each "mystery" receptacle box.

Do you have any 240v appliances such as a stove or water heater. Are they working correctly?
Old 07-31-11, 07:20 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,385
I think eventually you will find a bad connection most likely at a receptacle. I'd start right now by pulling out all the dead receptacles and switches and checking connections and replacing wire nuts. Switch back stabbed connections to screws. Look for burn marks and replace any questionable devices.

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