It's unhandy when an electrical outlet you depend on goes dead suddenly. This may cause you to stretch an extension cord across the room or overload a nearby circuit and create an unsafe situation in your home. Sometimes, a dead outlet has an easy fix that you can take care of yourself. However, it's also possible that you'll need to call an electrician to make repairs. Here are some reasons why an outlet can stop working.
The GFCI Tripped
When an outlet is dead, check the GFCI outlets nearby. One of these outlets shuts off power to the circuit when it detects a problem, but since they are sensitive, they can trigger when you least suspect it. When a GFCI outlet shuts down the power, outlets down the line on the same circuit go dead too. By pushing the reset button, you may restore power to your dead outlet and solve the problem.
The Circuit Breaker Flipped
When a circuit breaker flips off, you may lose power to multiple outlets and lights in your home. However, some outlets have dedicated circuits, especially ones used by kitchen appliances. So, one step to take when an outlet loses power is to check your electrical panel for a flipped breaker. Try moving the breaker into the off position and then back to the on position to see if that restores power. If it does, but the breaker flips again, leave it off and call an electrician. When a breaker flips once, it may not be a cause for concern, but if it flips off frequently, that might indicate a wiring problem or signal an overloaded circuit that should be looked into by an electrician.
The Outlet Has Problems
If you've checked the electrical panel and reset the GFCI outlets if applicable and there is still no power to an outlet, then the problem could be in the outlet itself. An electrician can remove the outlet and test it to determine what's wrong. A wire might be loose and the electrical repair might be something as simple as tightening a screw that holds down the wire. However, when wiring gets loose, it can cause the outlet to overheat and this might result in melted insulation or damage to the outlet. In that case, it may be best to have an entirely new outlet installed.
The Wiring Is Bad
If the outlet checks out okay, then the electrician has to trace the wiring back to the electrical panel and find out where the problem lies. There might be a short in the wiring or the wiring might be damaged. It's even possible the problem is in the electrical panel instead. Fortunately, an electrician has instruments and tools that can pinpoint electrical problems in the system so the repairs can be done to get your outlet working again and eliminate an electrical hazard in your home.