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Skypilot007

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Any electricians in here?

Question for you:

What could cause a single outlet on a circuit to not have any voltage on the hot and neutral. This outlet was not used for a long time and I recently started using it. After about a month the outlet goes dead. I turned off the breaker and removed the outlet to measure the line voltage directly on the feed wires. When I tuned the breaker back on I only get a fluctuating reading between 20-60 millivolts. All other outlets on the circuit are ok, just this one outlet has a problem. Any suggestions...
 

rescue161

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I would check to make sure that the bad outlets wires are actually still connected to the other outlet/light switch/ light. Sometimes the connections can become loose and you'll get an open resulting in your problem. I'd be willing to bet that that outlet is the last one in the string on that circuit.

=--------------------------X=-----------------=------------------------/
3____________________2_____________1_________________Breaker

X represents the "open" where the wires may have become loose. Check that and let us know.
 

gmclam

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Electrical wiring

I just repaired an outlet in a friend's house with this exact problem. I plugged my tester into the "bad outlet" and had no signals on any wires. So I opened it up and found it was the last one on the chain. When it is not the last one there will typically be two sets of wires for each color (white, black & ground).

Because of where the outlet was I did not suspect a GFCI, but it was my FIRST thought. I was lucky enough to guess at which outlet was "next back" in the circuit, and I opened it up. It had power but was not passing it along. The connections were not all that great and someone had (spray) painted the outlet. The paint was a good enough insulator. I scraped off the paint, tightened the connections and the bad outlet worked again.
 

SAR923

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I'd vote for a downstream outlet from a tripped GFI. I spent about four hours trying to track down why the outlets in the garage weren't working until I finally traced it down t a popped GFI on the frnt porch. Don't ask me why the electrician put these all on the same circuit but don't underestimate how far away a popped GFI could be from this outlet.
 

iMONITOR

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Years ago, in my first home (which was very old), water had leaked into the fuse panel, into what was already an old, tarnished, and probably loose connection. It made things worse. Pulling the mains, cleaning and tightening the connection fixed things.

But don't go messing around inside your service panel if you don't know what you're doing!
 

Skypilot007

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From what I read this outlet must be the last one in the circuit, there are only 3 wires coming into the box behind the outlet. There are no GFI outlets on the circuit, the outlet in in my attic. It used to power an attic fan. I'll try to trace back to the next outlet but the wires go right into a wall stud and I can't seem to find the other end. I do know of all the other outlets on the circuit, at least I think I do. Not too many. I'll start checking them first.

Thanks for the tips !
 

Thayne

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SAR2401 said:
Don't ask me why the electrician put these all on the same circuit but don't underestimate how far away a popped GFI could be from this outlet.
That was (is) done to save money, because before GFI receptacles became readily available and cheaper, we had to use GFI breakers to the tune of $30 a pop. Since the code required bathroom & outside receptacles to be GFI protected, this made it very common to have only 1 circuit for all outside & bathroom recepts.(If you could get away with it)
Now we are going thru the same thing with AFCI breakers required for all bedroom receptacles; also at least $30 a pop. Makes me glad I retired from that world.
 

SAR923

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Thanks, Thayne, I kind of figured that was the case since the GFI outlets in my bathrooms also are wired to outlets in the bedrooms and living rooms. The odd thing to me is that this one GFI outlet on the porch also controls three other outside outlets. Seems like you could have a ground fault on one of the three uncontrolled outlets and then I guess depend on the one GFI outlet to pop the circuit. Seems like a risky plan to me.
 
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