Electrical issues can be hard to identify, especially when they can’t be resolved by simply resetting the breaker. When it comes to lost power and electrical outlets not working, but the breaker isn’t tripped, the situation can be quite a head-scratcher. If your circuit breaker is on, but there’s no power to the outlet, there are several reasons that could cause this dilemma. You might notice that the power is out in part of the house, but the breaker is not tripped. Are you not looking forward to wasting time on electrical guesswork? We don’t blame you! Call the NYC electrical professionals at HandyKith; they can repair anything!
Reasons Why Your Outlet Has Power but Doesn’t Work – And How to Fix It
There are a few situations you could run into when losing power – for instance, perhaps your electrical outlets are not working on one wall. Or maybe power is out in one room, but the breaker is not tripped. No matter what the situation is, if you’ve lost power and you have no idea why, follow these tips to remedy the problem.
- Try to reset the breaker. The first thing you want to do is make sure that your breaker isn’t tripped. Sometimes tripped circuit breakers will actually look like they aren’t tripped! To check, you’ll need to unplug all the devices that are running off of the breaker. It’s crucial that there are no appliances plugged in. Once that’s complete, reset the breaker by turning it off. After a few minutes, turn it back on once again. This will ensure that the breaker is on and sending power down to its outlets. If power begins to flow to the outlets after resetting the breaker, your problem is solved. If you still have issues, you could flip all of the breakers off and on, to make sure you haven’t missed the one that has failed.
- Check the GFCI reset button. This is another simple remedy that might apply when your circuit breaker is on, but no power is going to its corresponding outlets. Ground fault circuit interrupters are designed to act like mini circuit breakers that are capable of cutting off power. If your home is more modern, you could have ground fault circuit interrupter outlets.
- Check your outlets. It is possible that one of your outlets is damaged or that it has a loose wire. This issue could also be causing other outlets to lose power. It’s similar to old Christmas lights – when one quits working, there’s a chain effect of failures. The outlets in your home may be wired that way. If you determine that faulty wiring is the case, Handy Kith’s wiring repair experts can fix them up for you.
- Check the fuses. Look for charred glass or a broken filament inside the fuse. Both of those are evidence of a blown fuse due to a short circuit. If your fuse is blown, replace it with one of the same type and amperage.
- Replace the breaker. If you’ve confirmed that the aforementioned reasons aren’t causing the lack of power, then the issue is most likely that your breaker is not working. Replacing the breaker will solve the problem. For an expert circuit breaker installation, Handy Kith’s electricians can’t be beaten!
How to Fix the Problems
Now that we know about some of the causes of lost power and how to find the problem, let’s look at ways to fix the situation.
How to Reset a GFCI Outlet
Let’s say that your breaker isn’t tripped, but you have a partial power outage or that a single electrical socket is not working. In either case, before you can restore the electricity, the GFCI must be reset. Before you do that, it’s crucial that you ensure that it’s safe to do so. You’ll need to unplug or turn off all of the devices that are plugged into the circuit.
Press the Test button and listen for a click. If it doesn’t click, this means the ground fault interrupter has tripped. Now, press the “Reset” button until you feel it click; this should restore power to the outlet and to all lights and outlets downstream from it. If it doesn’t reset even after you’ve pressed the reset button, the problem that caused the GFCI to trip may still exist.
If that’s the case, turn off all of the light switches and unplug all electrical devices (like space heaters) connected to the affected circuit and then try resetting the GFCI once more. If it fails to reset, turn off the circuit breaker for the affected circuit, reset the GFCI, and then turn the circuit breaker back on.
If the GFCI still fails to reset (or if it immediately resets again), and the power went out in the whole house, this is indicative of a more serious problem, and it may require the assistance of a licensed electrician.
Let’s say that after checking the breakers and trying to reset the GFCI, you still haven’t restored power to the outlet. Perhaps power is out in one room, and the breaker is not tripped, but the electrical socket is not working. The next step is to take the outlet out of the box and check for any loose connections. There are three main types of loose connections to look for when one outlet is not working:
- Loose terminal screws
- Loose stab-in connections
- Loose wires at wire connectors
When you take out your outlet and check the outlet box, you might find one, two, or even all three of these loose connections.
Check for Loose Wires
- First, check the screw terminals for any loose or broken wires.
- Cautiously bend the wire at each screw terminal. If the wire turns under the screw, or if the screw moves, this means that the wire is loose.
- Keep an eye out for any charred, broken, or corroded wires and screws.
- If you find that the outlet has a loose connection, replace it.
- To install the new outlet, you’ll need to bend a loop in the ends of the ground, neutral, and hot wires.
- Connect the hot wire to the brass screw, the neutral wire to the silver screw, and the ground wire to the green ground screw.
- Loop the wires around the screws in a clockwise direction, and then tighten them.
- If the outlet you’re replacing is wired with pairs of hot and neutral wires (which are under all four screws), connect the pairs to a third six-inch length of wire – called a pigtail – under one wire connector.
- Lastly, connect the loose end of each pigtail to their corresponding outlet screws.
Fixing Loose Wires at Stab-In Connections
To save time, some electricians wire outlets by pressing stripped wires into holes on the outlet’s backside. This wiring method doesn’t break electrical code, but the wires can loosen over time, causing problems. To fix this, follow these steps:
- When troubleshooting the dead outlet, look for stab-in connections.
- To check for loose connections, tug each wire gently.
- If you’ve found any loose connections, you shouldn’t just stick the wire back in. Instead, you need to cut and strip the wire’s end, then connecting it to the screw terminal.
If your wiring is aluminum instead of copper, it would be best to call a licensed professional to work with it.
Checking Wire Connectors for Loose Wires – Tug Wires at Connectors
Here’s how you can check for loose connections by tugging.
- Make sure that the main circuit breaker is turned off
- Grasp the wire connector.
- Tug on each wire in the bundle cautiously to see if any are loose.
- If you discover a loose wire, remove the wire connector.
- Cut and strip all of the bundle’s wires. When doing so, expose between ½ – ¾ inch of fresh copper wire.
Reinstalling the Connector
To reinstall the connector, follow these steps:
- Read the label on the wire connector packaging to determine the correct number of wires to connect.
- Gather the wires, make sure their ends line up, and then twist on a new write connector. Make sure to twist it on clockwise.
- Turn the main circuit breaker on again.
- Test the outlets again to see if the problem has been fixed.
What if it isn’t a wiring problem? It’s possible that just the breaker is not working.
Replacing a Circuit Breaker
If you find that your breaker trips easily (or doesn’t trip when it should), it’s hot to the touch, or it can’t be reset, then it will need to be replaced. If you aren’t confident in your ability to replace it yourself, hire a professional electrician. You don’t want to constantly find yourself in a situation where the electrical outlets are not working, but the breaker is not tripped.
When replacing a circuit breaker that’s on, but there’s no power to the outlet, you’ll need to have the following supplies on hand:
- A new circuit breaker; make sure it is the same brand, model, make, and size as the original one
- An insulating surface to stand on
- An independent flashlight, screwdriver, and wire strippers
- Cable connectors
- A voltage tester
To replace your circuit breaker when the outlet stopped working, but the breaker is not tripped, follow these steps:
- Turn off the circuit breaker’s branches individually.
- After that, turn off the main circuit breaker.
- Use the voltage tester to test all of the wires. You need to be sure the wires are dead before moving on.
- Take off the panel cover.
- Disconnect the breaker’s wire from the load terminal.
- Pry out the old breaker.
- Place the new breaker in the spot, and push it in carefully.
- Attach the wire to the load terminal.
- Tighten any loose terminals, and then replace the panel cover.
- Turn on the main breaker and then individually switch on the branches.
- Test with a voltage tester.
If you are still having problems after replacing the breaker (for instance, your breaker is not tripped but you have a partial power outage), test all of your house’s appliances. If that fails, get in contact with a professional electrician.
Get Your Power Back in No Time with HandyKith!
Remember that working with electricity can be pretty dangerous! If your electrical outlets aren’t working but your breaker is not tripped, your case could be unique and the situation may be complicated. If you have tried everything and the problem still prevails – like the circuit breaker is on but there’s no power to the outlet – contact our professionals. Handy Kith’s expert electricians have plenty of experience dealing with breakers that didn’t trip accompanied by no power. If you’re ready for us to help with your breaker headache, reach out to us today. You’ll be able to put this problem of the breaker not being tripped but no power behind you in no time.