Home electrical problems, wall sockets failing.

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Old 07-26-14, 09:37 PM
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Exclamation Home electrical problems, wall sockets failing.

I bought my house in December 2008 "as is" in an auction of foreclosed property. I noticed that some the rooms had no power, but never had it fixed.

After a year or so, I noticed that some of nonworking outlets started to work and some previously working ones failed. I did a lot of switching circuit breakers and turning main power of and on. I replaced all the breakers in the box and got one section of the house fixed. The connections at the box may show work done by the previous owners.

Just had the power go out for three rooms in my house. Two bedrooms and a bathroom. It had never happened before for the bathroom and one of the bedrooms (they had always had power). The other two bedrooms had power sporadically.

To get my computer working I ran an extension downstairs to the top outlet in a wall socket. That worked for about three hours then it also failed. I was able to move to the lower outlet of the same socket and it worked.

What I don't understand is how this can happen. How can an outlet work sometimes and not other times? How do they recover after a failure? I tried the circuit breakers, but no change.
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:01 PM
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first ck for loose connections......pull some outlets out and make sure the screws are tight on the wires. you may find that the wires are not under the screws but are pushed into holes in the back of the outlel. backwired is legal but does not hold up very good.....if the outlets are backwired you need to move all the wires to under a screw......if it was my house i would use a new outlet . don't use the 43 cent outlets....get the $2.oo outlets and they should outlast you.
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:14 PM
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That would explain how it would work on the bottom outlet and not the top anymore. By the way, is the outlet considered to be both plug-ins or one? How do you do this safely?
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:18 PM
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I will check the outlets, but it just struck me that this happened for 8 outlets in three different rooms earlier tonight. A single outlet failure can't trigger many more can it?
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:27 PM
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Outlet is actually in the NEC any place that electric can be tapped. A light is also an outlet. What you are referring to is more correctly called a receptacle. What you are dealing with is a duplex receptacle. The top and bottom plugins are normally connected by a bridge between the screws. If the bridge is in place the wires only have to be connected to one side regardless of whether it is the backstabs or the screws. However as John wrote the backstabs are less reliable and most regulars here recommend moving the backstabs to the screws as the third step in troubleshooting (first two are resetting breakers and GFCIs [if present]).
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:32 PM
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in a group of outlets going off and on.....i would look in the outlets closet to the panel box. pull the outlet out and see if a wire falls out of the back. but it could be any outlet...turn the breaker off when you do this....turn thhem all off if that is what it takes(if you are not sure witch breaker)
 
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Old 07-27-14, 12:43 AM
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A witch breaker? Does it have a warty nose and wear a pointy black hat?
 
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Old 07-27-14, 08:57 AM
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If just one half of a duplex receptacle works, usually this is because the other half is controlled by a switch (whose wiring to the receptacle might possibly have loose connections). More obscure is no switch but the little bridge (between the two side screws) still supposed to be there but having cracked due to aging. More correctly it breaks after so much wiggling as things were plugged in and unplugged over the years.

If you have a loose connection, a truck rumbling by on the street could cause the connection to break or remake. Loose connections heat up and have been the cause of many fires over the years. So if you have intermittent receptacles, you should stop using them until you find out for sure what the cause is, fixing any loose connections along the way.
 
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Old 07-27-14, 11:05 AM
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I bought my house in December 2008 "as is" in an auction of foreclosed property. I noticed that some the rooms had no power, but never had it fixed.
This house doesn't by chance have aluminum wiring, does it?
 
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