Outlet won't work

dirtman1972May 13, 2008

I have an electrical outlet that will not work. I have plugged in both items on this outlet to another outlet, they still work. In removing the outlet to try and determine the problem, I got a nice little jolt so there is still power coming to the outlet.

Any ideas?


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Buy a new outlet and have someone else install it.
Sorry, I couldnt resist. Are connections tight? Neutral connected?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 9:27PM
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Funny you say that. I opened it up, and put on a new outlet. All connections; hot, neutral, and ground connected tight.

Asked my neighbor for any ideas. He came over, reconnected to top screws (I had them on bottom set). No change.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 9:37PM
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Getting a jolt does not mean that it is 120 volts.
An inexpensive volt meter could tell you the voltage hot-to-neutral, hot-to-ground and neutral-to-ground (this last one should be zero).
I would also go to the next device upstream from this outlet to see if there is a bad connection there.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 10:34PM
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If the outlet doesn't work but you got a jolt you have an open neutral. The white wire has come loose at an upstream outlet. You shouldn't be working with the power on, it could kill you.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 10:47PM
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Get a cheapo outlet tester:


This will tell you exactly what is wrong, and, you won't get a cheap perm at the same time.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 12:35AM
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You have an open connection in another receptcale, light switch, or light fixture, etc. that is on the same circuit. It could even be in a working device.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 8:21AM
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OK. Here is what I found out tonight. I bought a multi-meter. I disconnected the outlet and tested the bare wires. Hot to neutral tested 120-125. Hot to ground tested 120-125. I reconnected the outlet. Same results as above. I plugged something in, it came on. I unplugged it and replugged it and it would not come on. I retested the outlet. Hot to ground tested 120-125. Hot to neutral tested only about 25.

Are we still going with an open neutral?

Here's the thing. It is for my washing machine. I still have not found anything upstream on this outlet.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 8:04PM
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You have a bad connection on the neutral somewhere on the circuit. Could be in any device working or not on the circuit. Could even be in the main panel if the entire circuit is dead.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 8:09PM
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Laundry circuit should be home-run (ie, no other outlet to panel), and who knows, yours might be. Sounds like it, and I feel you should always begin in the main panel, and work your way out. Call me crazy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 1:33AM
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Thanks for all of the input. It appears that it was a loose neutral in the breaker box. I went through and tightened them all and found a couple that I could turn more than once. Everything is fine so far. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 2:51PM
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