Can a bad outlet affect a different circuit?

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Old 01-30-14, 07:10 AM
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Can a bad outlet affect a different circuit?

I found what I think is a bad outlet. With a newer washing machine plugged into it, the machine wouldn't run properly and I could smell burning from the outlet. No brainer here, I'll replace the outlet. However, my question is can the short in this circuit affect a totally different circuit? The day before my burning outlet discovery a totally different circuit lost power for a few seconds (I had been doing laundry that day) and at the time I could smell the washer outlet burning a light on yet a totally different circuit was flickering. Don't get me wrong, I know any short circuit is serious but the burning washer outlet looks completely fine, even where it is wired in it isn't scorched so I am not talking about a major meltdown electrically.. Could this short really have affected other circuits via the breaker box? Or is there something else I should be consider to be the problem?
 
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Old 01-30-14, 07:35 AM
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You don't have a short at the washing machine receptacle. You have an open or an intermittent connection. If it was a short the circuit breaker would have tripped.

If that receptacle is the only one on that circuit then it shouldn't affect any other circuits.

Have you tried turning off the breaker and see if by chance the washer and those other receptacles are indeed on the same circuit. If that is the case, then the washer receptacle is being used as a pass thru receptacle and must be replaced immediately.

When purchasing a receptacle for the washing machine..... spend a few dollars and by a better grade receptacle. Don't use the backstab wire connections if available.
 
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Old 01-30-14, 08:57 AM
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The outlet is connected by the screw terminals, I know the backstabbed ones do not connect well. Right now, I have the breaker off for the washing machine circuit. The other circuits that briefly went out and flickered are on and running. My husband surmised that the bad outlet affected the other circuits via the breaker panel, but this doesn't sound right to me. Is this possible? This is really my only question, as I know it's hard to diagnose something you're not looking at.

I do know the outlet must be bad, it had a burning smell and we quickly-almost-had-a-heart-attack unplugged the washer from it. Before we unplugged the washer, while it buzzed, smelled and doing it's thing a light on a completely different circuit lost power while it was happening. The circuit that briefly lost power the day before is a 3rd circuit, not connected to either the washer or light.
 
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Old 01-30-14, 09:29 AM
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The plug could also be bad. If not the original cause it could have been damaged by the receptacle. How ever I would want to be sure the plug fit tightly in the new receptacle. I have seen plugs on electric space heaters destroy receptacles.
 
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Old 01-30-14, 10:00 AM
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I have the breaker off for the washing machine circuit. The other circuits that briefly went out and flickered are on and running. My husband surmised that the bad outlet affected the other circuits via the breaker panel, but this doesn't sound right to me. Is this possible?
No. What is possible is that a problem on one circuit can affect a circuit protected by a different breaker if those two circuits share a neutral, in what is known as multiwire branch circuit wiring. You can determine if that is the case by checking to see where the breakers for the affected circuits are located and whether any two of them have their handles tied together. The real way to check, though, is to take the cover off your panel and follow thw hot wires from those breakers to the point where they leave the panel. If, at that point, you see two hot wires and only one neutral leaving together, then that is the wiring foe a MWBC. A problem on the neutral ton one of those two circuits can affect the other circuit.

It's more likely that these problems are simply occurring at the same time. To see what you can to to resolve them, see Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light, Basic Terminology & Other info.
 
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Old 01-30-14, 10:55 AM
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I am going to look to verify if it's MWBC. Now that you mention it, I think it is and it would explain a lot - thank you for taking the time to point me in the right direction.
 
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