Wall Outlet Not Working But Breaker Still On. Troubleshooting Tips.
Often times we only have a short amount of time to get electrical problems fixed and this can often lead to making incorrect or irrational decisions in troubleshooting. I recently had a situation where the house vacuum was plugged into a hall outlet and it all the sudden stopped working. I soon discovered it made a bunch of other light switches, outlets, and overhead bedroom lights stop working as well. I immediately checked the breaker panel and the breaker had not been switched off! I thought "Well if it's not the breaker than it's got to be a GFI". I then checked all the GFI's in the house and all of them were just fine. I turned off the switch and turned it back on to see if that helped the problem and it resulted in no progress. I then turned the breaker back off and I took apart a couple on non-working light switches and outlets. All of them looked good from the outside but I even started changing them out for brand new ones. Pretty soon I'd forgotten which outlets I'd changed out and which ones I hadn't which ended up costing me a bunch of time.
After 3 or 4 hours of no luck then next day I took a step back and thought about what was actually going on. I knew it had to be something simple that I was just overlooking. I was correct. Since the breaker was on and a few lights on the circuit turned off and on when flipping the breaker, this eliminated the breaker as being a problem. Once I knew the breaker was good I took a small piece of tape and marked which lights and outlets on the circuit were working. After process of elimination I traced out the last outlet BEFORE the one that wasn't working and landed on an outlet I THOUGHT I had already changed out. Not the case. This is why it's important to mark which ones work and which ones don't so you don't overlook one. Upon removing and replacing the next outlet "upstream" form the one that wasn't working, this cured the problem!! When I did remove culprit outlet I noticed one of the connections where the white wire got inserted into the back of the outlet it came out with ease. This was the problem. I don't recommend using the hole in the back of the outlet, rather I recommend using the connection point that requires the use of a Phillips head fastener.
If I would have stopped and taken a minute to think about what was going on and how to logically and methodically trace out the problem, things would have gone a lot quicker. While I recommend hiring a certified electrician to perform all of your electrical work, below are some of examples of how I have installed and repaired various electrical outlets etc.
Before I perform any electrical work I always make sure that even after shutting of related switches and breakers, I always verify that there is no current going to the socket, outlet or light switch that I'm replacing. See below for some videos on common and affordable voltage testers as well as examples of various electrical outlet, switches and lighting fixtures I've replaced and upgraded.
Klein Tools Brand Voltage Sensor-Unboxing and Demo [Klein Voltage Sensor Unboxing and Review]
I purchased this Klein Tools Brand Voltage Sensor at Lowe's for the purposes of doing my own electrical work at home and wanting ensure I didn't shock the hell out of myself in the process. I've known many folks who have opted not to use one of these and have had the pleasure of getting shocked. Not fun and can actually be deadly. If you pick one of these up and actually take the small amount of time it takes to use it. Red light on and beeping means it is detecting a live circuit and the power hasn't been secured. To change out the AAA batteries, push the yellow button on the clip to open up the back end. This thing is so easy to use. All you have to do to turn it on and off is press and hold down the black button and the beeps and light will also let you know when it's on. I demonstrate it's use in this video on a wall socket as well as a cord from a lamp which were both detected as being live. This tool is a must have and it's fairly cheap.
Here's a (paid) link on amazon: https://amzn.to/378PldX
DIY How to Upgrade and Change an Electrical Wall Outlet 110V Household Plug [Electrical Wall Outlet]
The first step I did was to turn off the power at the breaker then verified that it was in fact by making sure a plugged in light didn't turn on as well as verifying with a voltage sensor. Once I confirmed the power was off unscrewed the old electrical outlet and discarded it. The new one went on the exact same way as the old one came off. Once I tightened down my new connections I gave the wires a nice tug to make sure they were secured properly and won't come free. I added a layer of weatherproofing and then a new outlet cover and called it a day. I turned the breaker back on and was in business with a brand new upgraded outlet.
Here's a paid amazon link to some outlets(if you buy from here I get a super small profit):
ENERLITES Duplex Receptacle Outlet, Tamper-Resistant Electrical Wall Outlets, Residential Grade, 3-Wire, Self-Grounding, 2-Pole,15A 125V, UL Listed, 61580-TR-W-10PCS, White (10 Pack):
DIY How2 Cheaply Install Outdoor Outlet That's Weather Proof [Outdoor Outlet Installation Tutorial]
This was a requested upgrade for a friend as part of an overall overhead outdoor light conversion from fluorescent bulbs to cheaper and more efficient LED. The first thing I did was make sure the power was off by shutting off the circuit breaker and verifying with a voltage tester. Once that double check was complete I felt I had the green light to go to work.
Southwire Brand Dual Range Non-Contact AC Voltage Detector [SOUTHWIRE VOLTAGE TESTER REVIEW]
Purchased this SOUTHWIRE Brand voltage tester at Lowe's and really like it. I feel this is a must have when working on household electrical appliances and outlets.
Here's a (paid) link on amazon: https://amzn.to/378PldX
DIY How to Properly Change Out Household Electrical Wall Socket Outlet [How2 Wall Outlet Upgrade]
In this video I provide step by step instructions for changing out standard wall socket socket. Upgrading to newer model.
DIY How2 Upgrade USB Style Wall Socket Outlet Installation Tutorial [USB Wall Socket Upgrade]
I can't recommend enough on how nice it is to have upgraded wall sockets with USB capability. Not only are the sockets themselves modernized but they can charge all of your devices conveniently.