COMMUNITY FORUM

tonytiger

10:35AM | 02/01/09
Member Since: 01/31/09
1 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
This is kind of a long story, but I'll try to keep it brief:

When I moved into my house (built in the 90s), two of the outlets didn't work. They are on adjacent walls. After a few months, they began working. One outlet I never use, the other I only plug my latptop into. After a few months of doing that, both outlets stopped working again. So I began plugging the latptop into an outlet further down the wall, and after a couple of months that one stopped working. Actually, only half of it - the bottom receptacle the computer was plugged into won't work but the top one still works.

What the heck is going on? Thanks for any help you can offer.

TimBonham

12:35PM | 02/01/09
Member Since: 01/09/07
197 lifetime posts
Intermittent connections like this, that work sometimes and don't other times, are usually related to loose wires. Plugging or unplugging something in the outlet wiggles it enough that the wires connect or disconnect.

This is something that you SHOULD fix -- loose wires tend to heat up, and could possibly start a fire in the wall.

Luckily, it's usually something you can fix yourself. Basically, turn the power off, check the outlet to be sure it's really off, then unscrew the outlet and pull it out from the wall, and check all the wires to be sure they are solid.

For wires connected to side screw terminals, check that the wire is looped around the screw securely and that the screw is tight.

If you find any 'backstab' connections, where the wire is plugged directly into a little hole in the back of the outlet, remove them and convert them into connections on the screw terminals. (They were used for a while, but it's been found that over time they tend to come loose. So most electricians don't use them anymore.)

Sometimes there are short wires from the outlet, connecting to other wires in wire nuts inside the box. For those, you need to check both the outlet connections, and then the connection in the wire nuts, too. Take the wire nut off, make sure the wires are twisted together tightly, and put the wire nut back on securely.

You will probably find an obviously loose connection -- a wire might even come off entirely when you pull the outlet off. But don't stop after fixing that -- continue to check the rest of the outlets where you've had a problem. If one connection came loose, the others are just as old and might also be loose. Check 'em all while you;re there with your tools.

But you might get all through this and not find any obviously loose wires. But put everything back in the boxes, turn the power back on, and test it. I've sometimes found that it now works reliably -- I managed to fix it, just by tightening everything up, without noticing a real loose wire.

househelper

06:29AM | 02/02/09
Member Since: 03/31/05
265 lifetime posts
It is possible these outlets are controlled by a wall switch. Having one half hot and one half switched is typical.
Click_to_reply_button
Inspiration_banner

INSPIRATION GALLERY



Post a reply as Anonymous

Photo must be in JPG, GIF or PNG format and less than 5MB.

Reply_choose_button

captcha
type the code from the image

Anonymous

Post_new_button or Login_button
Register

Few projects are more fun than upcycling a vintage piece in a surprising way. Outfitted with a sink and a delicately tiled... Built on a rocky island in the Drina River, near the town of Bajina Basta, Serbia, this wooden house was cobbled together ... Large steel-framed windows flood the interior of this remodeled Michigan barn with daylight. The owners hired Northworks A... Edging formed with upside-down wine bottles is a refreshing change. Cleverly and artistically involving recycled materials... A Washington State couple called on BC&J Architects to transform their 400-square-foot boathouse into a hub for family bea... Similar to the elevated utensil concept, hanging your pots and pans from a ceiling-mounted rack keeps them nearby and easy... For windows, doors, and mirrors that could use a little definition, the Naples Etched Glass Border adds a decorative flora... The thyme growing between these stepping stones adds a heady fragrance to strolls along this lush, low-maintenance garden ... Decoupage is an easy way to add any paper design to your switch plate, whether it is wallpaper, scrapbook paper, book page... Twine lanterns add pops of crafty—but sophisticated—flair to any outdoor setting. Wrap glue-soaked twine around a balloon ... When securely fastened to a tree or the ceiling of a porch, a pallet and some cushioning make the ideal place to lounge. V... Reluctant to throw away any of those unidentified keys in your junk drawer? Hang them from a few chains attached to a simp... A stripped-down model, sans screened porch, starts out at $79,000. Add the porch, a heated floor for the bath, and all the... Salvaged boards in varying widths and colors make up the dramatic accent wall in this attic space. The high-gloss white of... This garden shed has been decked out to the nines. Designer Orla Kiely created the intimate home for a flower trade show, ...
Follow_banner_a
Newsletter_icon Google_plus Facebook Twitter Pinterest Youtube Rss_icon
 
webapp1