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Outlet Has Current- but doesn't work! HELP!


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1WallFlower's Avatar
1WallFlower 1WallFlower is offline
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23-Apr-2007, 12:17 PM #1
Outlet Has Current- but doesn't work! HELP!
We have an outlet in our living room- it hasn't worked for quite some time. I bought a outlet tester- and it has a current (it lights-up). Bought a new outlet to replace it because we thought it was bad- but it tests positive for electricity.

What would cause it to test that there is electricity- yet nothing works when its plugged into it?

Thanks in advance for any reply- I'm totaly confused!
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23-Apr-2007, 01:06 PM #2
Hi wallflower

I'm not an electrical specialist but your question perked my interest I found this:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Electrica...ng-trouble.htm

Pretty good info on electricity

Good luck
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23-Apr-2007, 01:14 PM #3
That link was very interesting and helpful- Thank you!

Mr. Bill from the old SNL- now that brings back memories! :-)
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23-Apr-2007, 01:21 PM #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1WallFlower
That link was very interesting and helpful- Thank you!

Mr. Bill from the old SNL- now that brings back memories! :-)
Mr Bill, Froggy, Ghoulardi......kids don't know what they missed

Good luck with the electrical. Personally, anything that can kill you and you can't see it Has my respect
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23-Apr-2007, 01:37 PM #5
You have tried multiple appliances in this outlet and none work? Have you tested another outlet for comparison voltage, ohms, and amperage? Tried that appliance in another outlet?
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23-Apr-2007, 01:43 PM #6
Yes- there has been multiple different items plugged-into that outlet and all of them didn't work. They all work via an extension cord (to reach where they are) plugged-into a different outlet.

I'm thinking, from the previous reply, that there is a break in the wire. In fact we removed a center island in the kitchen which had an outlet to it- the wiring is now without an outlet and is under our house- Maybe that's it!?

Thank you for your reply- :-)
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23-Apr-2007, 03:58 PM #7
There was a period-about 1960's when aluminum wiring was used, and outlets were shorting out and causing fires until new electrical boxes were made to accomodate the alum/copper connection-seems corosion caused an oxide insulation barier at the wire connection, which sparked. Look at the wires at the box-if aluminum then replace the box with new ones, I believe they now all are made to accomodate either copper or aluminum wire.
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23-Apr-2007, 04:08 PM #8
This is a 1998 maufactured home- and the outlet has copper wire. Thank you for your reply- that's some useful info to someone who didn't know that will find useful! :-)
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23-Apr-2007, 06:52 PM #9
Your device may indicate power, since the neon light in it draws a tiny amount of current. However, if appliances don't work, I'd look at the other end of the wire either where it goes through another box or at the breaker panel. I suspect that's where the loose connection is.
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23-Apr-2007, 07:28 PM #10
Have you checked the actual voltage yet? Get a multimeter (buy a cheap one, if you need to; you should be able to find something for $10-$15) and check the voltage between all three prongs - between the two slots should read around 110-120VAC, between the hot (narrow slot) and ground should read about the same, and between the neutral (wider slot) and ground should read nothing. Anything different indicates a wiring fault, possibly something serious.

You could also try one of these outlet testers - any Home Depot or similar type of outlet should carry them:

(I recommend the multimeter though, it's more versatile and not much more expensive...)

Come to think of it, if the toaster plug has a ground prong, the glow light may be connected between the hot and chassis and be showing a working ground, even if the outlet has a bad neutral connection.

If possible, check all three voltages again when a device is plugged in and turned on, and see if it drops (assuming it reads properly in the first place).

NOTE: BE VERY CAREFUL DOING THIS! Make sure you're not touching the metal part of the meter probes when you insert them into the outlet. I know it sounds like advice for a five-year-old, but I've seen some scary stuff happen because someone just wasn't paying attention.
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25-Apr-2007, 12:04 PM #11
you may be on to something about the outlet on the island being eliminated. That may have been a junction where the wiring to you problem outlet came from. i would try to find that box and check the connections there. you maybe getting voltage but no neutral due to a bad connection. the only way as mentioned earlier to verify voltage is with a meter. the cheap gadgets that detect electricity do not indicate the voltage there but just presence of electricity.
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25-Apr-2007, 12:30 PM #12
True, but one of those cheap plug-in testers will at least tell if the wiring is right.

Thing is, chances of there actually being LOW voltage at only one outlet as very very very slim - either the wiring is connected, or it isn't, and if it is (properly), it should be getting the same voltage as any other outlet on the circuit. Any sort of "brownout" would likely be house-wide, or at the very least affect the entire circuit, not just a single outlet.

My first suspicion is still a disconnected neutral to that outlet, either at the outlet itself, or at the next point up the chain.
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26-Apr-2007, 09:27 AM #13
Actually, if a poor connection in the previous box in series with this one is the issue, one outlet can indeed have a problem. I've seen this more than once where the voltage measured properly until a load was on the outlet.
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26-Apr-2007, 09:44 AM #14
I suggest a volt meter be used to measure the voltage, then put a load (lamp?) on it and measure the voltage again. If you get 110-120 volts without a load and it drops way off under load, you have a bad connection somewhere. Work your way back checking connections. Definitely look at the connections where the Island was.
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27-Apr-2007, 02:11 AM #15
If the "tester" only uses a neon indication then it really does not prove a connection as explained above. Induced voltage from the cable running parallel to a live one can result in such an indication, where there is an induced voltage, but no current is available to power anything (apart from the few microamps for the tester).

Never trust a neon to prove anything. They do not provide any "load".
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