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Why Your Electrical Outlet Does Not Have Power

If an electrical outlet lacks power, but the rest of the house doesn't, you are probably dealing with a localized problem. Below are common causes of such problems. 

Problems at the Circuit Source

In some cases, you might think an outlet has malfunctioned while, in reality, the problem is elsewhere in the circuit. The problem can be anywhere between the electrical panel (where the outlet gets its power) and the outlet. Some examples include:

Malfunctioning GFCI

The ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) shuts off power in case of an electrical leakage through the grounding cable. The shutdown is necessary to prevent electrical hazards due to ground leakage. However, a malfunctioning GFCI might deny your outlet power without a ground fault.

Blown Fuse

Some circuits use fuses for protection against electrical hazards in case of overcurrent. The fuse blows out and requires replacement wherever there is a significant fault. You won't have power at the outlet until you replace a blown fuse.

Tripped or Damaged Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers, which trip or cut off electricity in case of electrical faults, have replaced fuses in many places. Unlike a fuse, you don't replace the circuit breaker if it trips; you just reset it. You won't have power at the affected outlet until you reset the circuit breaker. A malfunctioning circuit breaker means no power even without fault in the circuit.

Problems at the Outlet

Sometimes, the problem is not with the circuit but with the outlet itself. Below are examples of such cases.

Burned Out Wires

The electrical connections inside the outlet can burn out if they overheat. For example, overheating might happen due to an electrical fault within the outlet or circuit. A hike in voltage short circuit can also overheat the outlet wires. Once the wires burn out, the outlet's circuit won't complete, and it won't have power.

Loose Wires

Wear can loosen electrical connections inside an outlet. For example, many outlets have connections between electrical wires and screws or contacts that can loosen over time due to thermal expansion and contraction. The loosening interferes with electrical continuity and denies the outlet fire.

Broken Switch

Many electrical outlets have switches that you use to open and close the circuit. A damaged switch might be stuck in the open position where electricity doesn't flow.

DIY electrical repair is usually not advisable. Unless the problem is simple, like a tripped breaker, you need a professional electrician to diagnose and fix it. 

Contact a local electrician to learn more.