Electrical Wiring in the Home/Electrical outlets


QUESTION: Hi Greg.  Thanks in advance for your time.  I have 3 electrical outlets in a row in our breakfast area that haven't worked for a long time. I just tested with a multimeter and got 0 volts in all of them.  I can plug in a night light and it will light up a little bit but not as much as when I plug it into a good outlet. Plugging my laptop into these outlets does not charge the battery and a vacuum won't run when plugged into them (no big surprise there with a 0 volt reading). We did have some repair work done in this same area in 2010.  The outdoor water spicket pipe broke and there was water damage in the home that the builder repaired.  They had to replace floor boards to our hardwood floor and replace drywall from the floor to about 1 foot up in this area near the outlets.  Do you know what the problem might be?  I checked fuses and GFCI but none of that seems to apply.  I also inspected each outlet and there don't appear to be any loose connections. I even replaced one outlet but it didn't help.


ANSWER: Paul, I have a couple of questions:

Did the outlets work right after the work was done or is this something that happened later?

The outlets are suppose to be on a gfci breaker or fed from a gfci outlet, which one is it?

If you do have a gfci outlet is it the kind that needs to be reset if the power is removed?

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QUESTION: We rarely use these outlets. My wife and I can't remember if they were working after the water damage repair work was done in our home but I seem to remember that they used to work before the water damage.

Regarding your GFCI question...

Hmmm...the 3 outlets that don't seem to be working properly are not GFCI.  There are only 2 GFCI outlets on our first floor - one in kitchen and one in the bathroom.  I only mentioned that I checked GFCI outlets in case somehow they are all strung together.  The house was built in 2007.  The water damage occurred in 2010.  If they are not GFCI outlets, I think the answer to your question is neither.

If the outlets light up a night light a little bit, could that possibly mean that there is a wire with a nick in it or maybe a loose connection somewhere?


Okay, I was thinking that your breakfast area may of needed gfci outlets but since that is not the case we have to look elsewhere.

It does sound like a wire may have come loose in a wire nut and is touching just enough to flicker your night light. It could be a wire on one of the outlets loose, or it could be a nicked wire.

But I would start looking at the bundles of wire nuts in each outlet box.

With the power off, hold the wire nut in one hand and firmly pull on each wire individually. Give it a good pull. You are likely to find one loose.

Sometimes when the wires get stripped they get stripped to tightly and some of the strands get cut (if it is stranded wire) and that is something to look for.

If it is solid wire it can still be cut to deeply, so look for that also.

good luck.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Greg Hughes


Troubleshooting electrical including appliances and HVAC.


34 years of experience.

Both college and tech schools in this field.

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