Plugging in a device to an outlet and finding that it does not work can certainly be annoying, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Although electrical problems a typical household often encounters may appear complicated, there are usually very simple explanations.
The good news is that faulty outlets cost very little to replace, and can quickly be be done by a local electrician. However, before contacting an electrician, you should try to troubleshoot the electrical problem yourself to determine whether it’s necessary to make a service call.
Note: If you are not sure or are uncomfortable working with electricity, it’s best that you leave the task of diagnosing an electrical problem to a professional. Messing around with the electricity without taking safety precautions can lead to an electrical shock.
1. Check Other Outlets and Lights
First, it’s best to check if there are any other outlets or lights affected, which can be done by connecting an appliance to another outlet to see if it’s working. You can also use a voltage tester to test the outlets. Also, you should switch the lights on and off in the room where the dead outlet is located to test for power. In case everything else is working properly, the reason may be a fault in the electrical outlet that needs to be repaired or replaced.
2. Examine the Circuit Breakers
Sometimes the circuit breakers trip due to an electrical overload or a short circuit. As a result, the electricity is not supplied to the wiring that is connected to the circuit. You can check for the tripped circuit in the main electrical panel, which can be found in the area where the wires enter the house. Common locations include basements, two-car or one car garages, and believe it or not, the laundry room.
Once you have located the main electrical panel, you must open the metal door and see whether any circuits are tripped. In case you see a tripped circuit breaker, switching on the circuit breaker can usually resolve the electrical problem at hand.
In some cases a tripped circuit breaker may not be easily visible. To locate the tripped circuit, you must switch each circuit off and on. The handle of a tripped breaker will wiggle easily. In contrast, a breaker that is set on or off will be relatively difficult to move.
3. Inspect the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
In some houses, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are installed to protect against electrical shocks. They sense faults in the electric current and immediately shut off the power to prevent an electrical shock. A tripped GFCI can also sometimes be the cause of the dead outlet.
A current leak in an outlet can cause the GFCI to trip, resulting in a dead outlet. Sometimes a leak in even one of the outlets can cause all the outlets to go dead. You should look for GFCIs in the kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and the basement and then test and reset every one. In the case of a fault in the GFCI the reset button will not appear when you press the test button. In such an event, you need to contact a professional electrician to resolve this type of electrical problem.