outlet won't work during cold weather

murbarkerOctober 26, 2010

We have 2 outlets in our kitchen that are located on an outside wall. The dishwasher uses one and the other is above the counter. During cold weather those two outlets stop working. Does anyone have any ideas about why this would happen? There is another outlet on that same strand of outlets that does work. We are at a loss.

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there is probably a loose wire somewhere.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 3:32PM
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Some years ago I read an intriguing "puzzler." An electrician was called in to diagnose an intermittent problem with a cellar light. The light had worked fine for years, but recently it had started to act up. It still worked in the winter, but in the summer, it would flicker or not light at all.

The house was an old one, with original knob and tube wiring in the cellar. It seems that the original electrician had neglected to solder a connection. Over the years, the copper had oxidized. In winter the cellar was several degrees colder, and the wires contracted a bit, pulling the twisted joint tight enough to pass current. In summer the warmer conditions allowed the copper wire to expand and loosen just enough for contact to be lost, thanks to the oxidation on the copper.

My guess is that your situation is similar. Maybe the person who wired your kitchen forgot to tighten a terminal screw somewhere, such as on one of the receptacles.

Don't let this go - a loose connection can cause a fire.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 4:59PM
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it should be tripping a gfci or afci, and if you are like me you use one for every circut.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 9:09PM
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You will need a remote voltage detector, a cheap analog multimeter, and 2 extension cords long enough when plugged together to reach from the "good" outlet to the bad outlets with some left over. Run maybe $30 - $40 at Home depot, etc.

Also buy two new wall outlets first before you buy any of the above stuff. Do your present outlets take three prong plugs?

Things to do first: Determine the three working wall outlets are on the same fuse or circuit breaker by plugging in a lamp or small appliance to see if it works plugged in to all six sockets. Then shut off the power by removing the one fuse or shutting off the one circuit breaker you believe controls the three outlets and use the lamp again to prove that none of them now work.

Let us know what results you get.
Have you ever opened up a wall outlet for inspection?

When turning kitchen power off and on it is good practice to give it a five minute interval to avoid putting a strain on the fridge.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 10:42PM
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okay, regarding the "strain on the fridge" concept... when working on aomsething that requires me to turn power off and on a number of times, it is a good idea to GET IT DONE SOMETIME THIS WEEK, so I'm going to go ahead and propose that you simply unplug the fridge before beginning the process.

That said... I'm not liking this "2 extension cords" deal. Please don't instruct an unknowing soul to build a suicide cord. There are better, safer ways.

As a sidenote, the third-to-last time I USED such a cord, one of the outlets was miswired and I ended up creating a dead-short, which did not impress the new neighbor whose power I was borrowing for a couple days.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 12:06AM
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Since I never presume any newly arrived seeker after knowledge is genuine until proven otherwise, I deliberately avoided any actual troubleshooting instructions. Two normal extension cords are not grounds for conviction the last time I checked.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 1:54AM
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