McKinseyB: Receptacle Problem.

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  #1  
Old 06-15-12, 09:39 AM
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McKinseyB: Receptacle Problem.

I joined this forum in order to post this "Thank you" to everyone who has commented in this thread, especially the OP. I am having the same exact problem and went to google this morning to hopefully find a solution. My husband did the things OP mentioned this morning, but he had to leave for work. I was on the phone several minutes with the electrician who installed the wiring in our new home about 3 1/2 years ago and the person I spoke with walked me through the exact same steps my husband had done, with the same results...no power to that outlet or those connected. Of course, she also informed me that our home is no longer under warranty, which caused me to questioned whether or not the outlet was defective since it has been such a short period of time. I googled the problem hoping to avoid a high electrician's bill (she stated they could send someone out for a minimum of $120 + whatever repairs are needed).

I am going to turn the breakers off again and try to tighten the screws on the outlets connected to the one that is not working and hope for the best.

Again, thanks to the OP and everyone else for posting to this thread!

Mod note: Post originally made in another thread.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 06-15-12 at 10:09 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-15-12, 10:15 AM
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Is this a GFCI or GFCI protected receptacle? Have you moved any back stabs to the screws? How many receptacles are dead? Do you have a multimeter or test light (not a non contact tester).
 
  #3  
Old 06-15-12, 10:31 AM
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I originally posted in this thread because I was having the same exact problem, including the brief power outage yesterday while away from home.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...aker-fine.html

I have VERY LITTLE knowldege about electrical issues, but I went to google, which led me to this site, in the hopes of finding an easy DIY answer for the problem to avoid a huge bill from an electrician for something we could fix on our own.

That being said, ray2047, the sticker on the outlet plate says "GFCI protected outlet."

I don't know what back stabs are, but if you walked me through it, I'm sure I could find them.

The number of receptacles that are dead: Aside from the outlet with the reset/test buttons, there are three (3) countertop outlets affected, in addition to the one the stove is plugged into, which is low behind the stove and not accessible unless we pull the stove out. So, a total of five (5) electrical outlets without power right now. There is no test light.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide!
 
  #4  
Old 06-15-12, 10:51 AM
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The test light is a testing instrument to see where you have power.

If the reset buttons on the GFI do not work you need to look and see if a breaker has tripped. The GFI will not reset without power to it. Turn the breaker off and then on.

Backstabs are a means of connecting the wires to the device by pushing the conductor into a hole on the back of the device.
 
  #5  
Old 06-15-12, 11:19 AM
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Both my husband and I checked the breaker several times today. I even went through the whole process again with the electrician's assistant on the phone: turned the breaker off, then back on; check the other GFCI outlets and reset them all, and still no power.

Thanks.
 
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Old 06-15-12, 11:30 AM
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Do you have any kind of a map of the circuits? I'm starting to think you have a problem at a receptacle, either the first dead one or the last working one on the circuit.
 
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Old 06-15-12, 12:04 PM
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  #8  
Old 07-03-12, 09:15 AM
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Hello, again!

My husband replaced the receptacle about two weeks ago and it seemed as if the problem was solved. However, a couple of days ago, out of the blue, the power to those outlets went out again. My husband went to the breaker box, and even though none of the breakers were tripped, he turned the breakers to the "off" position, then back "on," which fixed the problem.

That is, until this morning. When I woke up to cook breakfast, I noticed the clock on the stove was off and went to the breaker box. No breakers were tripped, but when I called him, he still instructed me to do what he had done: turn them off, then back on and then reset the outlet in the kitchen. I did all of this, but still no power. :-(

I just thought I would try to see if any of you guys might know what the problem could be before we call an electrician.

Thanks in advance!
 
  #9  
Old 07-03-12, 09:40 AM
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the sticker on the outlet plate says "GFCI protected outlet."
You need to look for a GFCI outlet someplace. Since it is over the counter it will likely be in the kitchen but may be hidden by an appliance. Press all the reset buttons on each one you find. Then press the test buttons to make sure they are working and have power. If reset button pops out, its good. Press the reset again and check the non working outlets.
 
  #10  
Old 07-03-12, 09:43 AM
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Thanks for your quick response!

I have searched the house (including the attic) for an outlet that we were unaware of, and did not find one. I did not check behind the refrigerator, though, but wouldn't the refrigerator be affected if there was one behind there? I will check it anyway and post my findings.
 
  #11  
Old 07-03-12, 09:56 AM
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Tolyn, ALL of the outlets in our kitchen have that sticker that says, ""GFCI Protected Outlet." However, there are two that have the reset button. The one behind the refrigerator does not have the reset button.

After checking behind the fridge, I pressed the reset button on the other outlet and then went back to the non-working one. When I pressed it this time (I had already done that twice this morning), I guess it reset itself because the clock on the stove started flashing.

(deep sigh!) We have never had this problem before and since it has only been three years, it seems a little soon for us to have to replace the outlet that we replaced, but is there something else that we need to do in order to prevent having to reset the outlets or check the breaker box every few days? Is there no safety concerns in having to do this so often?

I really appreciate you guys being willing to assist people like me who are new to "do-it-yourself" projects, especially in this economy.
 
  #12  
Old 07-03-12, 10:04 AM
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You might have a loose connection. If turning the breaker off initially fixed the problem you may have an issue in the panel. Loose connections anywhere in the circuit are not good as they can cause heat to build up and arcing could occur.
 
  #13  
Old 07-03-12, 10:08 AM
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GFCI receptacles are not always in intuitive places but if the plate says it's GFCI protected and flipping the breaker did not reset it, I think there has to be a receptacle somewhere and you just have not found it yet.
 
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Old 07-03-12, 10:30 AM
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Having only two GFCI's (the outlets with the test/reset buttons) makes perfect sense. The two are protecting the others. I do not believe that it has anything to do with the breaker, but your issue is with the GFCI outlet. Since the fridge still runs, it is not part of the problem.

As mentioned, you could have a loose connection which would involve turning off the power at the panel (double check at the outlet to be sure power is off), taking the outlet out, and tightening the screws on the wires and reassembling.

Do both GFCI's trip when the test button is pressed. Note: if you trip one, and that kills the power to the stove, that one is the suspect device. We can concentrate our efforts on that one.
 
  #15  
Old 07-03-12, 11:14 AM
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@pcboss - I'm TOTALLY new to all electrical topics, so please forgive my elementary question, but what is "arcing," and when you mention heat building up, are you referring to buildup in the receptacle area or elsewhere? Is such buildup a potential fire hazard?

@Tolyn - No, only the GFCI that is connected to the stove trips. The appliances plugged in at the other GCFI were working before I reset that one.

Will try your suggestion of taking outlet out and tightening the screws when hubby gets home. If he's unable to this evening, I will try it myself tomorrow morning before the kids wake up.

Thanks, again!
 
  #16  
Old 07-03-12, 11:38 AM
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The arcing that PC is referring to is just like it sounds. The connection is loose and the electricity jumps between the two conductive parts. This causes heat, and heat causes fires. You would likely be able to feel the outlet being warm if this was the case, but just be aware of it. IF you do take it apart, just look for any discoloration of the plastic.

Since I think we have this narrowed down, I suggest keeping an eye on it. If it trips again double check that it there is nothing else on that circuit that is causing it to trip. You can take the outlet out if you want as it never hurts to make sure things are tight.

I feel that this is a GFCI issue more than anything else. I recall doing a service call once where a microwave was tripping a GFCI. I plugged it into different one and it also tripped. Figured if it trips two different GFCI's it has to be a problem with the microwave right? Well, just for the heck of it I replaced the GFCI outlet. Plugged in the microwave, ran just fine. Both GFCI outlets were bad.
You might just have a bad GFCI.
 
  #17  
Old 07-03-12, 05:01 PM
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but what is "arcing,"
Arcing is sparking and yes, it's a serious condition.
 
  #18  
Old 07-04-12, 12:00 AM
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The GFCI outlet that keeps going out is a new one that we replaced last month. Is it possible that the other one might need to be replaced also, even though we have not had any problems with it going out?
 
  #19  
Old 07-04-12, 04:11 AM
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If there are wires tied together with wire nuts, check to make sure none of those wires are loose in the nut.
 
  #20  
Old 07-04-12, 05:20 AM
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Exactly how many appliances are plugged in to those outlets? Did you add an appliance at about the same time this issue began?

I ask because the breaker in the panel is also tripping. Assuming you have a 20-amp breaker on each of the two GFCI-protected circuits, consider the power draw from typical appliances:
Coffee maker: 1100 watts (9 amps)
Toaster or toaster oven: 900 watts (7.5 amps)
Microwave: 1500 watts (12.5 amps)

The numbers on a single circuit are additive. For example, if all of the above were on at the same time on the same 20-amp circuit you would have 29 amps, which would trip the breaker.

Heavy loads from any of the above devices can also cause wiring to expand and contract as it warms and cools. This expansion and contraction is not a problem if the wires are secured to the screws on the sides of the receptacles. However, if they are simply pushed into the holes in the rear of the receptacles ("backstabbed") they have only a spring to hold them in place. Repeated cycles of expansion and contraction can loosen these spring connections over time.
 
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