String of outlets no power randomly gets power

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Old 07-12-15, 01:01 PM
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Wink String of outlets no power randomly gets power

Bit of a wiring mystery here.

We have a string of 3 outlets - indoor outlet - indoor outlet - to exterior GFCI (end of run with only one set of wires) that turned off while the GFCI was in use about a year ago. Reset breakers - checked connections - nothing worked.

One day out of the blue the outlets began working again. I used a miter saw for a couple of cuts on the exterior GFCI and again - dead.

This is not a GFCI issue as two of the outlets upstream are also not working. Also strange is that I do not know which breaker this set of outlets are on (house is wired kinda funny and this one is not marked). Every breaker in the house has working lights / outlets etc. So the issue is not a breaker or full circuit issue either.

We had the house insulated about 6 months before this and they did some drilling of holes in walls. No idea if they might have nicked something or if this would answer why the outlets are off - and occasionally back on?

Right now everything is dead. Reset every breaker in the house and checked nearly outlets to see if there could be some issue upstream.

Nadda



Any thoughts from the experienced?

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-12-15, 01:46 PM
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Welcome to the forums. The way you describe the circuit is a little odd. Are you certain the GFCI is at the end of the circuit, rather than first in line? You may have another GFCI that has tripped and is killing it all, and is either hidden, or never reset until it is needed, and you don't know it is causing the outage. Yes, the holes drilled in the wall could have caused some problems, but you won't know it until you trace it down. Have you pulled the receptacles from the boxes? Often times older installations will see the use of stab backs where the wires are just pushed in the back of the receptacle. Not a good attachment. Bringing those wires to the screw heads will make it more solid. Tracing the problem will be made simpler if you buy an inexpensive (~$10) analog multimeter. We can walk you through the process.
 
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Old 07-12-15, 02:08 PM
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Larry, the two receptacles may be inside while the gfi is outside.

There may be a loose connection ahead of the three receptacles mentioned.
 
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Old 07-12-15, 07:09 PM
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Thanks guys!

Positive the GFCI is at the end of the run (there are only two wires - a black and a white - in that box.

I checked every GFCI in the house - I actually installed every one previously - and no issues there.

Took out the outlets as well - including the ones that may or may not be part of the same circuit - and all seem tight.

Strangest part is that the use seems to have caused the outage - my wife was using one of the indoor outlets for a while - then when I used the outdoor gfci for a tool things stopped.

Strange. . .

Any ideas for next steps here?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 07-12-15, 07:13 PM
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Pigtail each of the inside receptacles instead of using the bridge on the receptacle. In other words connect the two black wires to a pigtail and the two whites to a pigtail, Connect the pigtails to the screws..
 
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Old 07-12-15, 07:25 PM
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How would pigtailing help if there is no power in the three boxes?
 
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Old 07-12-15, 07:32 PM
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You may need to look upstream. Check the sticky at the top of this forum.
 
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Old 07-12-15, 07:36 PM
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That is kind of the problem.

I checked all the local outlets and fixtures and nada.

Like I mentioned all the circuits in the house do power something up so I know that the problem is not from the breaker but somewhere afterwards.

Is there any way to check this out without breaking the walls?
 
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Old 07-12-15, 08:18 PM
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You have a certain number of receptacles that are dead. There is a live receptacle that feeds these three receptacles that most likely has failed internally, has a loose wire, or is a GFCI. You can inspect all the nearby receptacles that are working to see if current passes through them or if there is a broken/loose wire.
 
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Old 07-12-15, 09:17 PM
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How would pigtailing help
It would eliminate the receptacles from the cause of the down stream problem.

When they are working you need to try every 15 amp single pole breaker to see which one it is. Then try the 20a single pole if you don't find it. Once you find the breaker you need to identify every device on it.
 
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Old 07-12-15, 10:35 PM
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One day out of the blue the outlets began working again
I mentioned all the circuits in the house do power something up
See Larry's post #9.

It sounds like you are convinced there are only three devices on this circuit. Highly unlikely.
This problem screams of a loose connection. A receptacle, switch box, any device can work perfectly and at the same time fail to feed power downstream. This is where pigtails come in, you are not relying on device to provide power downstream.
 
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Old 07-13-15, 07:01 AM
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Thanks everyone for you help!

I took everyone's advice and rechecked things.

Turns out one of the outlets in a different room has two wires attached to screws and one in the back.

I think the one in the back was the culprit. I installed a new outlet with pigtails and so far so good.

Thanks to all!!
 
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Old 07-13-15, 09:45 AM
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Good detective work. Let us know when your sure it is fixed.
Turns out one of the outlets in a different room has two wires attached to screws and one in the back.
And now you know why we say move all the back stabs to the screws.
 
 

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