Dead Outlets - Stumped


Old 01-19-13, 04:27 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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Exclamation Dead Outlets - Stumped

First off I am not a very good DIYer. I don't know much about electrical work but i'm getting there. Last week about 14 of my outlets stopped working. I thought I blew one of the outlets in my basement because i plugged in a portable heater along with a refrigerator. I believe when the fridge kicked on something blew. First i checked the fuse box. I live in a older home, no circuit breakers, just 6 fuses. I checked every fuse to make sure it had not blown, i even did continuity tests on the fuses to make sure all of them are good. I have tested every outlet in the house. Every one of them is hot.. tested with a volt sensor but 14 of them don't work. The fuse for the 14 non-working outlets also has working lights along the same circuit. I was told that i probably have a bad ground wire somewhere and that i should trace the line from the fuse that controls all these bad outlets. I removed the cover to the fuse box and traced the line to the first bad outlet. I replaced the outlet and still nothing. I replaced the first outlet that I thought i had blown, the one that had the fridge and heater connected to it but still nothing. I haven't given up but i'm running out of ideas. Any suggestions or advice?
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Old 01-19-13, 05:47 AM
chandler's Avatar
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Welcome to the forums! How are you checking for voltage? Multimeter, tick tracer, etc.? I would determine the fuse that goes to this circuit and remove it. Then pull the first receptacle in the line and inspect it really good. Most likely you have a damaged or failed neutral or hot wire to that first receptacle, preventing the other receptacles from working. Overloading receptacles can often cause burns if the fuse does not blow. Check the amperage of the fuses to that circuit versus the wire size, which appears to be 14 gauge. They should be no larger than 15 amp. Also, what is that box to the left with the wires running in the rigid conduit? It appears to be energized from the #2 fuse from the left on the top row. Pix that box and let us see what is in it.
Old 01-19-13, 05:55 AM
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tested with a volt sensor
If you mean a non contact tester it is all but useless for this. It will often give a false positive, especially on an open neutral. You need to test with an analog multimeter.

The problem could be in the first non-working receptacle or last working receptacle. Since this is an old house it could also be in a ceiling light fixture or even a switch box. Each will have to be opened and checked. Any wire nuts need to be removed and either replaced with new or at least checked for corrosion or broken retention spring. Any back stabbed wires need to be moved to the screws. See also:

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