Electrical Outlet Not Working? Here’s What to Do When Troubleshooting Dead Outlets
Try these electrical tests before calling an electrician.
When you find an electrical outlet not working, it is easy to jump to conclusions and assume the worst. Usually, the fix is something simple and you can save the cost of a service call by checking a few things.
In most cases, a tripped circuit breaker is caused by a temporary overload on the circuit or a short circuit from a device plugged into the outlet. This article covers a few checks you should perform before calling a licensed electrician.
Of course, there will always be problems that are best left to a licensed electrician, but if you follow these 5 easy steps, there is a good chance you will find the solution.
Step#1: Are Other Electrical Outlets Not Working?
Before you head for the circuit breakers, take a few minutes to check if other outlets, lights, or appliances are affected.
- Switch lights on and off and test nearby outlets for power.
- Unplug lamps and appliances from dead outlets.
- Mark dead outlets with a piece of masking tape so you will be able to find them.
Step# 2: Check the Circuit Breakers
Locate the panel and open the metal door to reveal the fuses or circuit breakers.
Remember to turn off your electronics before you switch the circuit breakers on and off.
Step#3: How to Find the Circuit Breaker for the Dead Outlet
- Search for tripped circuit breakers.
- Locate tripped breakers by looking for breaker handles that are not lined up with the rest and they should have a little give rather than feeling solid.
Step #4: Resetting the Breaker
- The first step in resetting a tripped breaker is to switch it off, you should hear a click.
- Reset the breaker by pushing the handle firmly to “on.” It should line up with all the rest.
- If it stays in the “on” position and your outlet still is not working, go to step #5.
- If it “pops” back to the tripped position, there is a problem in the wiring or in something that is plugged into the circuit. It is time to call an electrician.
- If the tripped breaker will not reset without tripping again, there could be a potentially dangerous short circuit or ground fault condition.
Step #5: Check the GFCIs
GFCI (short for “ground fault circuit interrupter”) outlets, those unusual outlets with the test and reset buttons, are required in areas of the house where shock hazards are greatest. GFCI’s protect against deadly electrical shocks by sensing leaks in the electrical current and immediately tripping to shut off the power. It is easy to overlook a tripped GFCI as the source of a dead outlet problem.
- Look for GFCIs in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, garages, and on the home’s exterior.
- Test and reset every GFCI you find.
- If the GFCI will not reset or the button does not pop out when you press the “test” button, there may be no power to the GFCI or you may have a bad GFCI.
- If the “reset” button trips again every time you press it, there may be a dangerous current leak somewhere on the circuit. Solving the problem requires additional electrical testing and it is time to call a professional electrician for help.
At Vertechs, our electrical technicians will handle your dead outlet with the utmost confidence and professionalism. You can rest assured knowing that we will make your schedule and safety our top priority. Schedule a service call today and we will get things back up and running in no time!