Knoweasy Electrical Guide丨How to Fix a Dead Outlet - knoweasy

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Knoweasy Electrical Guide丨How to Fix a Dead Outlet

September 08, 2021

Fixing a dead outlet is an electrical job that electricians often encounter.
While it doesn't involve a lot of complicated work, it's still important to learn the step-by-step actions to take. Here, we'll show you how to troubleshoot, fix, and understand some of the basics of electrical outlets.


Troubleshooting dead outlets

In most cases, a dead outlet is a localized problem. The outlet may lose power without a larger scale electrical problem. First, look for a simple solution, such as a tripped circuit breaker or GFCI outlet. If this is the case, simply reset it and turn on whatever is plugged into that outlet. You can also.

1. plug something else into the outlet and see if it works.
2. test another outlet to see if the problem is more widespread.
3. If the breaker trips, unplug it to prevent overload.
4. Press the reset button on the GFCI.
5. Check for loose wire connections and terminal screws.

To check for loose connections or damaged wires, turn off the circuit breaker at the outlet and use a screwdriver to remove the panel to remove the screws holding the panel in place. If you can verify that there are no wiring or connection problems, that's great.


Securing electrical outlets

Standard non-GFCI outlets are simple and have no moving parts. If you have a dead outlet, the problem is usually localized. In most places, you don't need a permit to work on an electrical outlet. But there are safety considerations. To work on an outlet, you must make sure the circuit breaker is off and test the outlet with a voltage tester to make sure no current is flowing through it.

The best solution is usually to replace the outlet with a 15-amp, 20-amp or GFCI model. Depending on the model, you will need a flat or Phillips head screwdriver, a voltage tester or a GFCI tester. If you have isolated the problem to a single receptacle, continue with the following steps.
1. Remove the panel from the non-working receptacle.
2. Inspect the wires, connections, and screw terminals for damage, corrosion, burns, or wear.
3. Bend each wire at the screw terminal or plug-in connection to see if it is loose.


Steps to replace a dead receptacle.

1. Disconnect and remove the old receptacle.
2. Bend a loop at the end of the fire, neutral and ground wires.
3. Connect the wires; the hot black wire is connected to the brass screw, while the neutral white wire is connected to the silver screw. The ground wire is connected to the green screw.
4. All wires should be wound clockwise around their respective screws.
If the receptacle has paired fire and zero wires, connect the paired wires of the same color and a pigtail wire under a connector. This neutral wire is approximately six inches long.
6. Reinstall the wire connector, making sure the wire ends are aligned (the connector's package label should indicate the number of wires it is rated for).
7. Turn on the circuit breaker and test the outlet.
8. If successful, reinstall the panel.

If the receptacle still does not have any power, it will work intermittently, or there is some other problem preventing it from working properly, there may be a problem elsewhere in the electrical system.

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