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Here’s Why Your Outlet Stopped Working

Here’s Why Your Outlet Stopped Working

January 10, 2019

Has Your Outlet Stopped Working?

It’s usually not a big issue caused by your power company or a storm, but often when our outlets stop working, we are in a hurry. With that in mind, when your outlet stops working while you are using an appliance remember not to freak out or panic. Simply turn off your appliance and unplug it. There are a few possibilities that may have caused this but it’s important to remember to stay positive and safe – you will be able to make toast, blow-dry your hair and rub your feet together comfortably in front of that little space heater again. Just think before you start tinkering with your electrical system. Electricity is no joke and it’s important to stay safe. In the meantime, here are a couple possibilities that might have caused the issue:

TRIPPED CIRCUIT BREAKER

If your outlet stopped working it’s possible that your circuit breaker was overloaded. Sometimes when you use multiple appliances on the same circuit it can trigger a shut-off. While this might seem somewhat frustrating, remember this is a safety feature to prevent you from getting seriously injured or triggering an even bigger issue. A circuit will shut off to prevent additional electrical current from flowing through the outlet.

Usually, when a circuit is tripped it’s caused by a temporary power overload. If you were making toast and blow-drying your hair on the same circuit, some experts may applaud you for your motivation to be efficient, but in all seriousness, you are probably overloading the circuit.

You can go to the Breaker Box to check the circuit which should be marked or labeled so you know you are seeing correlating circuit and you can flip it back to match the other ones. A circuit in the breaker box will flip the opposite direction when it shuts off. If you flip the circuit back on and try to resume your appliance use and this happens again, call an electrician. Don’t mess around and tinker with electricity because it’s too risky and you could end up injuring yourself.

TRIPPED GFCI OUTLET

You may have tripped your GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet. If these outlets stop working it usually means they were tripped due to detection of overheating or a possible short. GFCI outlets are required by law in most building codes and you will find them in your house where the riskiest activities could happen (e.g. the bathroom and kitchen). Electricity and moisture don’t make a good combination for a human being, so GFCI’s will usually be found in areas where water is prevalent. There is a button that pops out in the middle of the outlet, but you can push it to reset the outlet. To see how to reset your GFCI outlet, see our video here.

Sometimes GFCIs are on the same circuit as other rooms in your house so if the outlet trips, your television might go out if they are using the same circuit.
If you try to reset the outlet and it won’t reset, there could be something else at work here. Electrical testing may be required to troubleshoot this issue and you need to call an electrician to conduct this.

LOOSE CONNECTIONS

When investigating your outlet problems and the issue seems to go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, it’s best to call a professional. If you checked your circuit breaker box and tried to reset your relevant GFCI outlets and you still can’t make that toast or get your hair the way you need it, you might have a loose wire connection within your walls. You can test multiple outlets in your home to see if that outlet is the only one not working. It’s possible all you need to do is replace the faulty outlet if the wires are loose, but remember, removing your outlet plate and looking does not always show loose wiring. You should definitely call an electrician if your outlet stopped working and you believe there are loose connections.

ANCIENT WIRING

There does come a time when all things do come to an end. If you live in a home that hasn’t had a full electrical inspection or the electrical system hasn’t been updated in the last 20 years, don’t be surprised if the wiring starts failing altogether. In this case you would want to hope for a simple circuit trip or a possible loose connection, but to be safe calling an electrician to investigate a faulty outlet is the best way to figure out what needs to be done. If the wiring is really old there may be telling signs that you need to replace the wiring altogether. Don’t lose hope, and above all don’t start fiddling with old wires if you don’t have professional electrical training.

BURN OUT

Like an old hair dryer or an old toaster, sometimes outlets literally just burnout. Whether it was the quality of the device itself, the wiring, or the amount of power attempting to move through the outlet, it’s possible for this to happen. If you see a brief flare or spark this could signal the resignation of this outlet. Remove the plug of the appliance you were using and with extreme caution, you can try to plug another appliance into the outlet to see if it is actually burnt out or not. If the appliance doesn’t work, it is safe to say the issue is with the outlet and that it is possibly deceased.

Accurate has professional electricians that do a massive amount of outlet replacements of all types in all different style of homes and buildings. We can help you with any of your outlet needs. Above all, you should avoid trying to do complicated electrical tasks yourself. If you have questions or are unsure about a certain outlet, please stay safe and contact us first.

When an outlet stops working it’s important not to ignore it because it may be a warning sign that there is something bigger happening that involves your home’s entire electrical system.