Three Dead Outlet Mystery

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by wallygater, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    One in the basement (washing machine)
    Two on the first floor
    The three outlets are dead, no power
    All three worked fine up until now
    So Far:
    I have changed , tested all three outlets with a volt stick
    None of them show any signs of having power
    All circut breakers are on in the house
    Everything else in the house works fine

    How can I find out why these three outlets are dead??
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,820
    Location:
    New England
    It's probably a loose or broken connection. Many times, one circuit will feed multiple receptacles in a daisy chain. Break that chain somewhere, and those downstream stop working. So, looking at those receptacles, if you find one that only has one cable coming into it that doesn't work, it is the end of that chain...you have to work your way backwards and find those with two (or more) cables coming into the box, and see if there is power on one set, but none going out (probably because of either a loose connection, or a broken wire). There are tools that inject a signal into the wiring that you can trace, but baring purchasing one of those, you have to think logically on how the things were probably wired - most likely from one next to it, or directly above or below.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,292
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    dead

    The problem could be in the "first" dead outlet, whichever that one is, or the one AHEAD of it. Are you sure they are not on a tripped GFCI receceptacle?
  4. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    I agree. dead feed somewhere.

    This house is 75 yrs old, so is most of the wireing

    the bad outlets are part of the original house wireing

    All BX

    I had planed to backfeed the last outlet and see where the power goes, however, that sounds dangerous to me

    I will thr to just use the tester and find the outlet with power comming in and dead going out

    that last outlet on the circut is a GFI

    It has no power so I dont think its the GFI

    Why would that last outlet have 4 wires on it ???

    There is nothig past it. It is the very last outlet in the basement. It seems to me that it only needs 2 wires.

    Is it the BX?? is that why ???
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,838
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Why do you think it is the "last outlet"? If it were, it would not have 4 wires.

    Are your breakers not labelled as to which feeds what? It could be a bad breaker or a broken wire after the breaker.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,292
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    outlets

    "backfeeding could be dangerous, because if the broken wire is the neutral, and you backfeed with the wrong polarity, you could cause a major short circuit. You have to remove outlets and visually inspect them to try to determine the power routing, in order to trace back to the point where you DO have power.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,820
    Location:
    New England
    It's likely that the GFCI is the FIRST receptacle on that line, otherwise, it would not have something connected to the load side. Are you sure that it is not tripped? Have you tried the test button and pressed the reset? If the reset button won't stay in, you have a wiring problem down the line. It's also possible that the GFCI is bad, but more likely that there's a wiring problem, or the thing just tripped because of something you plugged into it was faulty.
  8. Hammerlane

    Hammerlane New Member

    Messages:
    252
    Location:
    Ohio
    Prior to the 3 receptacles losing power have you touched, moved, changed, installed or re-configured any electrical device(receptacle, switch, fan, light, etc..) anywhere in the house within say 72 hours of the 3 receptacles losing power. That would be a good place to start looking for a loose connection.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013
  9. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    I am now back to my electrical mystery. thank you for your replies

    the only thing that has changed within the past few weeks is the new washing machine

    LG front loader.

    about a week after pluging in the new washer the problems began

    the washer plugs into what I call the" last outlet" in the house

    located in the basement, this outlet and box is exposed, accesable, and has had the old washer pluged into it for about 10 years.

    the reason I call it the last outlet is because it has one bx cable going into the box and nothing coming out

    the big mystery about that outlet is its a GFI, with all 4 wires hooked up to it.

    Now for the dangerous part:

    after determining that I would have to diassemble and examine about 10 outlets, I decided to narrow it down abit with the back feed method

    I turned off the whole house, left one circut on that I know is independant (Bathroom), ran power into the (last outlet)

    I connected the back wire to the black, and the white to the white

    that left two other wires from that box just bare

    I tested the Increadibly dangerous connection with my trusty volt stick

    the hot from the bathroom lit up as expected

    the white had no reading

    whats inceadibley confusing is one of the bare wires was also energized. the other bare wire had no reading

    I dont understand, how what apears to be the last outlet, can it have 4 wires hooked up to it??

    why did the back feed test go so wrong?? all I achieved was energising two wires out of 4 in that last box

    I tested the outlet that is directly connected the the last one ( its still in the basement and acssesable)

    it was dead as a door nail. my backfeed attemt went nowhere.

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I am really trying to not call a real electrition to come to the house due to my lack of funds.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,820
    Location:
    New England
    First, a washer/dryer should be on it's own circuit! If there's one cable coming in, how are all four of the wires connected to a GFCI? You CANNOT connect the line and load leads together. If there's nothing going out, only the LINE leads should be connected to something, and the load leads capped, assuming it has pigtails coming out, or if not, just leave the screws empty. The LOAD leads only get connected if you wish to protect and power additional 'normal' receptacles downstream of it.
  11. Hammerlane

    Hammerlane New Member

    Messages:
    252
    Location:
    Ohio

    I am scratching my head on this statement
  12. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    It is now time to call someone who knows what they are doing before you either get hurt of burn your home to the ground
  13. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    thank you for the replies.

    I figurred out whats up with that "last outlet"

    It turns out that it not the last outlet. what the electrition had done, is rewire the out let next to it.

    it turns out that the GFI is the "second to last outlet". the last one is the one next to it with only 2 wires

    it makes sence because they are both close to the slop sink

    that explains the big mystery to me

    I still have no power in any of the 4 outlets and I dont want to pull out about 12 outlets throughout the hose to find out were the power is being interupted
  14. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    I am trying to be as safe as possible. I will be passing any crazy ideas/plans, on this forum first, before i try it

    thanks in advance, for any help you can provide.

    maybe you can explain the correct way to locate the bad outlet without me having to pull out and test all of them

    there has got to be a better way, what would a pro do??

    somewhere between the breaker box and the 4 dead outlets there is a problem.

    i wish i know wich breaker it was but i dont

    it could be any one of about 5 circuts that run through this old house, each room has about 3 or four outlets and there are about 4 rooms
  15. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    The first thing I do is map out what breakers are feeding what circuits, and then it is easier for me to visualize how the each circuit is likely to be installed.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,820
    Location:
    New England
  17. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    thats a petty good idea. thanks
  18. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    at least it would narrow it down a bit
  19. wallygater

    wallygater New Member

    Messages:
    133
    Location:
    long island
    no matter what i do, the 4 dead outlets will remain dead even with the beaker off

    it will still be hard to determine wich breaker/circut it is

    But, it might help to narrow it down a bit
  20. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Once again I say
Similar Threads: Three Dead
Forum Title Date
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Can three #8 and one #10 wires be in ½†metal conduit? Aug 1, 2013
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Three phase 208Y with 120V Nov 7, 2012
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Special Receptacles for Three Sets of Wires? Oct 28, 2012
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Three romex into recessed light box Apr 30, 2012
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Help with three duplex plugs Jun 5, 2011

Share This Page