“Why Did My Electrical Outlet Stop Working?” [FAQ]

August 18, 2014

Got a dead outlet?
This could be caused by multiple things including:

  • The outlet is turned off
  • Tripped GFCI outlet
  • Tripped breaker

We’ll cover these in detail in this article.

The outlet is turned off

Some outlets are controlled by specific light switches in your home. This is so that lamps can be controlled by the light switch. But if the switch is set to off, the outlet won’t work.

Obviously, the best way to fix it is to find this switch and turn it to “on.”

Tripped GFCI outlet

GFCI outlets are the outlets with the colored (usually red and black) buttons on them. This outlet may be causing other outlets to not work.

Here’s why:

GFCI outlets protect you from electrical shock by shutting off power when it senses a leak in the electrical current (called a short).

But many outlets may be connected to one GFCI outlet. So, if it trips (for whatever reason), it’ll cause all the outlets connected to it to go dead.

Find all the GFCI outlets in your home and press the reset button. These outlets are typically found in:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Basements
  • Garages
  • Home’s exterior

Tripped breaker

Chances are, a circuit breaker tripped (cut off power) to the outlet. First, you want to unplug anything from the dead outlet and any other dead outlets. Then, reset the tripped circuit breaker.
The circuit breakers are usually in the main electrical panel, which is typically located in one of these places:

  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Laundry room

Open the main breaker panel door and look for a tripped breaker (the switch should be in center position). When you find it, turn the switch to the “off” position (left) then the “on” position (right).

If the circuit “pops” (trips) immediately or when you go back to using the appliance you were using when it tripped, then you have one of these 3 problems:

  • Overloaded circuit
  • Short circuit
  • Ground fault

If the circuit pops/trips again, do NOT try to turn it back on. Turn it to off and keep it there until you fix the root of the problem.
Learn how to fix each of these problems in our article, “Why does my circuit breaker keep tripping?

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