One Wall of lights/outlets Not Working

shamityOctober 27, 2011

Hi, we bought a house that was a flip, with most of the work done by the flipper, who was licensed in exactly nothing. We noticed (after closing of course) the lights on the back wall of the house only worked sometimes... it's one switch and one outlet that is affected. We realized that when you push on an outlet on the opposite wall, the light switch and outlet in question flicker on and off. The outlet we pushed on is a little iffy, too -- the vacuum has cut out entirely when using this outlet. For a while, we played with the outlet to get the lights to come on, but now that is not working anymore. Plus, I am assuming this might be a safety issue, so we should probably not do that anyway. We are stretched financially right now and can't really get an electrician to come out until we save up some more money; in the meantime, we are not using any of the outlets or switches in that room (which sucks because it is a dining room/kids' playroom, which could really use some light on cloudy days and in the evening!). Until we get someone out here, does anyone have an idea what could be causing this? Even better, does anyone have a magic fix, or is this definitely licensed electrician territory? Thanks!

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Sounds like someone used the 'push terminals' on the back of the outlet and you have a loose connection.

Check the outlet that when you push on 'turns' the others on.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 7:10AM
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After turning off the breaker, remove the cover plate, pull out the outlet and inspect the connections. There are basically three ways to make the connections. The quick connect devices have spring-loaded connectors that you just push the stripped wire into. They are frowned upon as problematic. There are connectors that you push the wire into and then tighten a screw. Lastly, there are devices that have only the old-fashioned and reliable screws.

Look for loose wire connections, and burn marks. Smell the outlet and see if it smells burned. After you get done with that one, you might want to start checking your other junction boxes. It is a PIA, but if it were my house, I would sleep better. Keep in mind, however, that the reason all splices are made in boxes is to keep the house from burning down because of bad connections.

Getting a book on basic home electrical might not be a bad idea. They are common in stores and you could check out one from the library.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 11:41AM
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