Outlet failures

Reply

  #1  
Old 07-29-19, 08:40 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Outlet failures

Hi everyone, I am having problems with all 5 outlets on a single circuit. These outlets are the only "devices " on it. No fans, lights, detectors etc. This circuit is Not gfci protected. The breaker is not tripped and is working fine, we even replaced it to be sure. We located the first outlet on this chain and replaced it. Nothing changed. The original outlet was a "self contained" 15 amp outlet. It was replaced with a standarded 20 amp outlet and work box. The "Lowe's expert" advised a 20 amp replacement outlet as the breaker is rated for 20 amps, even though all of the outlets on this breaker were 15 amp. Only the first outlet has been replaced. The installation of the new outlet has been triple checked and is installed correctly. Wires wrapped, not stabbed, and all are secure.
I have no intention of ever using this outlet for 20 amp devices, just installed it since I was advised to since it is a 20 amp breaker and the outlet will accept standard plug in devices as well, not just 20 amp plugs.
I guess my question is, would this outlet being rated 20 amps, the first in a circuit with 4 other 15 amp outlets daisy chained on a 20 amp breaker, be the problem? Should I replace it again with a standard 15 amp?
if this is not likely the problem that is keeping the outlets from working, any suggestions as to what it could be?
Home is a 20 year old double wide.
wiring to the outlets is 12 gauge
outlet tester does not light at all in any of the outlets, indicating open hot.
volt meter reads between 50-60, but could be "phantom" readings from nearby.

by outlet, I mean receptical. There are only these 5 receptical's on this breaker.

thank you all
 

Last edited by Shea31; 07-29-19 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Terminology
  #2  
Old 07-29-19, 09:24 AM
I
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,943
Received 44 Votes on 42 Posts
The 15A v. 20A receptacle is not relevant. There is no need to use 20A receptacles unless you plug in a 20A device (rare in residential use).

There is a loose or broken connection somewhere in this circuit. Measure voltage at the output terminal of the breaker to verify 120V which will prove the breaker and main panel is working OK.

Some possibilities are that there is another junction box somewhere on this circuit that you haven't found yet. In a manufactured house it is possible there may be splices in unexpected places. The device you think is the first one isn't actually the first one, check all boxes on the circuit for loose, broken connections or bad receptacle devices. There could be rodent damage - sometimes they chew through wiring.
 
  #3  
Old 07-29-19, 09:40 AM
E
Member
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: USA
Posts: 126
Received 17 Votes on 16 Posts
Either 20A or 15A receptacles are OK on a 20A circuit with 12 guage wiring. 20A receptacles are prohibited on a 15A circuit because an appliance that came with a 20A plug would likely overload it.

How did you determine which outlet was first in the chain and which breaker was connected to that circuit? It sounds like you didn't do it electrically based on your reported observations. Also, does the 50 to 60 volts go down substantially when you turn off the breaker you mentioned? What type of wiring was used, how many wires are there going into and out of the outlet boxes, and what colors are they? Just trying to cover all bases so nothing is missed.
 

Last edited by engr3000; 07-29-19 at 10:07 AM.
  #4  
Old 07-29-19, 09:50 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,726
Received 297 Votes on 255 Posts
My guess is the receptacle is NOT the first in the line. There is another one closer to the panel or there is a junction box closer to the panel that has a loose connection.
 
Pea-Jay voted this post useful.
  #5  
Old 07-29-19, 02:35 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks everyone for the input!

A couple of years ago, I flipped breakers and tested everything in order to label my incorrectly labeled breaker box. I am a mitochrondiac by nature and electricity interaction with mitochondrial function is something I have spent a lot of time studying. As such, I felt the need to know which breakers controlled every single electrical device in my home whether it be light fixtures, receptical's or hard wired detectors, etc.
I am very confident that only these 5 receptical's are on that branch. While I know there is a least one junction at the crossover, if there are any others they have been buried.
I cannot say with all certainty that I have located the first on the branch, but logical assumptions ( which often let me down) suggests it is. Of the 5 receptical's, the last one has only 1 romex with three wires, a hot (black) a neutral (white) and ground (bare). The other 4 receptical's all in a line, have 2 romex with the same wiring. Since none of the receptical's have 3 romex, I am assuming based on the direction the wires are coming from/going to that they were all wired in consecutive series. Hence, I assume (possibly incorrectly) that the one on the opposite end from the last receptical would be the first wired in the series.
I have not checked the output voltage from the breaker yet, but I will. I *believe * it to be okay for this reason: It is a tandum breaker with 2 20 amp levers. The top lever is connected to the 5 non-working receptical's , and the bottom lever is connected to a single dedicated receptical for a chest freezer. When switching the hot wires between the 2 on the breaker, my freezer still operates as it should. Therefore, I assumed the output from the panel to be good, but will check with a meter to be sure.
All five of the receptical's have been inspected and I cannot find any fault in the 4 unchanged ones. The suspected first one was changed even though the wiring appeared good, there was a dark spot on the romex leading to it. Since I had enough wire, I went ahead and cut beyond the spot and installed the new receptical. Would actually like to change them all out for standard, don't really like those self contained units.
I will go and check back inside the walls from each receptical as far as I can for possible splices.
I will check the connection at the crossover
I will get a reading at the breaker.

thanks so much for the input!

 
  #6  
Old 07-29-19, 02:44 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,726
Received 297 Votes on 255 Posts
If everything you have said is correct then the only possible solution is the cable between the breaker and the first receptacle has been cut. Cables don't spontaneously break for no reason.
Has anyone done work recently like hanging a picture where a nail might have been driven through the cable?
I still believe there a junction somewhere that you haven't found or you are not in the first receptacle. You have checked two of the five. Check the other three.
 
Pea-Jay voted this post useful.
  #7  
Old 07-29-19, 03:02 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
All 5 have been checked, but you just created a spark.

two months ago, we replaced the electric range for a gas range. There was a hole drilled through the floor for the gas line, right next to the old 220 receptical for the old stove. There was also a new hood installed, but I believe it aligned perfectly where the old one was.

will definitely be checking there for problems.
I am assuming that this could be it, even though there was a two month gap between the installation and receptical failures?

edit: this install was in the very area where the outages have occurred.
 

Last edited by Shea31; 07-29-19 at 03:06 PM. Reason: More info
  #8  
Old 07-29-19, 03:13 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,726
Received 297 Votes on 255 Posts
You tested the hot with the breaker swap but did you check the neutral connection in the panel?
 
  #9  
Old 07-29-19, 03:26 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I "inspected" the neutral wires in the breaker box for damage and tight connection, but that's all.
 
  #10  
Old 07-29-19, 04:08 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,726
Received 297 Votes on 255 Posts
Inspecting by looking may not be good enough. You should identify the actual neutral and tug it or tighten the screw to see if turns.

You should be able to test for an open neutral by measuring voltage hot to ground but not hot to neutral.
 
  #11  
Old 07-29-19, 04:41 PM
P
Member
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 11
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I love that you are a mitochondriac rather than a hypochondriac! very clever
How old is your house? Do you know anything about who you bought it from? I bought my house from a guy who was best friends with a fireman who came in and wired everything incorrectly and knowing who did it helped me find boxes buried in the wall- eg what would a electrician do vs what would a homeowner do- look for the short way; that's probably where your break is.
Your breaker hasn't flipped,
you put in a new breaker,
you know which recepticacle is the first receptacle
replaced the first receptacle inline WITH A NON GFI
So pull the panel cover and make sure everything is touching. They may have just raped counter clockwise and pushed the wire away from the contact.
Then look for access pannels.
 
  #12  
Old 07-30-19, 04:22 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thank you All!

I haven't fixed the problem yet, but I have located it.

I plugged in a lamp and started banging on the wall above the first receptecal and when I got near the range hood that was installed 2 months ago.... bingo, lamp came on. The hood is on a separate feed, so I'll be checking both circuits when I get in there. Keeping those 2 breakers off in the meantime. Have to get it done soon, my aquarium was on one of the receptical's and since I can't move it, its on an extension cord. Not good, I know.

Thanks again for the help, it is much appreciated!
 
  #13  
Old 07-30-19, 04:27 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,726
Received 297 Votes on 255 Posts
Perhaps both circuits pass through the same junction box.
 
  #14  
Old 07-30-19, 05:27 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Not sure, haven't had any problems with the range hood or other things on that circuit. Just being cautious since both runs clearly come down in that area. Definitely be looking for one though.
 
  #15  
Old 07-30-19, 05:40 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 10,758
Received 97 Votes on 87 Posts
The "Lowe's expert" advised a 20 amp replacement outlet as the breaker is rated for 20 amps

Hahahahaha........now that is funny! Yes, there are a few knowledgeable guys working in the Lowes electrical departments, but they are very few and far between, maybe one for every 4 or 5 stores. Same for at HD and Menard's.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: