There aren’t many things in a home that people depend on more than the humble electrical outlet. They’re the keys to our modern lifestyles, powering our devices, appliances, and every other electricity-hungry bit of technology we own. So, few situations can cause more worry for a homeowner than when an outlet in their home stops working. When that happens, though, it’s sometimes possible for a homeowner to locate the source of the problem. To help you do that the next time there’s an inoperable outlet in your home, here’s how to safely troubleshoot a non-working electrical outlet.
Check Your Device First
As obvious as it sounds, it’s always possible that a malfunctioning electrical device can make you think you’ve got a faulty outlet. So, the first troubleshooting step is to test the outlet with a simple electrical device like a lamp. In some cases, you might discover that your outlet’s working just fine.
Test Both Receptacles
The next troubleshooting step if you encounter a failed outlet is to test both of its receptacles. If one of them is working, you could have stumbled upon a half-hot outlet. A half-hot outlet, or a switched outlet, is an outlet that’s connected to a wall switch somewhere nearby. The idea is to allow you to control plugged-in lamps in rooms without ceiling light fixtures from a conveniently located wall switch. So, if you encounter an outlet that has a single non-working receptacle, try turning on all nearby wall switches to see if it solves your problem.
Check Your Home’s GFCI Outlets
If your non-working outlet is in a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere else in your home near running water, it may be a GFCI outlet. They’re outlets with special circuitry meant to cut off the power if there’s a ground fault, like when the outlet gets wet. Most of the time, you can identify a GFCI outlet because it will have a black reset and a red test button on its face.
However, some homes have multiple ordinary outlets on the same circuit downstream from a GFCI outlet. In that configuration, the downstream outlets gain protection from the GFCI outlet. That also means, however, that a tripped GFCI outlet will cause all of the downstream outlets to lose power. So, if you encounter an outlet with two non-working receptacles, look around for a tripped GFCI outlet nearby. If you find one, resetting it may solve your problem.
Check Your Circuit Breaker Panel
The next and final troubleshooting step you can take is to check your home’s circuit breaker panel. It’s possible that the breaker responsible for the outlet’s circuit tripped, cutting off power to the outlet. In general, all of the circuit breakers in your home’s panel should be in the on position at all times. So, if you see one that isn’t, check the panel door to see if it corresponds to your faulty outlet’s location. If so, try switching it back on and check your outlet again.
It’s important to note, though, that a tripped circuit breaker indicates that the circuit is overloaded for some reason. It could mean that something you plugged in malfunctioned or drew more electricity than the circuit could safely provide. So, if the breaker trips soon after you’ve reset it, don’t turn it back on. Instead, call Beck Electric, Generators & Plumbing to have a qualified electrician check the circuit.
Leave It to the Electrical Experts
In many cases, you’ll easily find the reason that an outlet in your home stopped working. However, you should never take any chances with your home’s electrical system. So, don’t remove the outlet’s face place or try any other DIY solutions to solve the problem. Doing so carries a high risk of injury. Instead, rely on the expert electricians here at Beck Electric, Generators & Plumbing to help you.
We offer comprehensive electrical services, including outlet repair in residential and commercial buildings. Plus, we install and service electrical panels, standby generators, and smart home devices. We even offer complete plumbing services, should you need those. The bottom line is that when you need someone to get to the bottom of a non-working outlet in your Canton, OH home, call on the experts at Beck Electric, Generators & Plumbing right away!