5 Common Reasons Your Electrical Outlet Stopped Working

by | Jun 19, 2018 | Wiring

You’ve used that plug so many times. It’s faithfully charged your phones, laptops, and other devices for years.

And then–all of a sudden–the outlet stopped working. What happened?

Well, it could be a number of reasons. But in most cases, there’s a simple solution. Whether it’s single or multiple outlets not working, we’re here to help you diagnose the problem.

Before we begin, though, a brief word of warning. Don’t attempt to pull the plug from the wall, touch the wires, or make any DIY repairs.

Electrical shocks cause over 4,000 injuries and 400 deaths each year. Don’t take any chances with your safety! If you can’t diagnose the problem, call a professional who can.

Now that our safety briefing is out of the way, let’s look at five common reasons why your outlet stopped working.

1. Is It the Appliance?

Before you start running diagnostics, your first step is to ensure it’s truly the outlet that’s at fault.

Electronics age and wires crack over time. If one of your outlets suddenly stopped working, try plugging a different appliance into it.

Switch out the lamp for your cell phone charger or the coffeemaker for the toaster oven. If none of your appliances power up, you know for sure it’s the outlet.

2. Tripped Circuit Breaker

Once you’ve determined it’s definitely the power outlet, head over to your electrical panel. (This is usually located in your garage, basement, or laundry room.)

Open the panel and check to see if any breakers need to be reset. Keep in mind they don’t always flip all the way over–sometimes they get “stuck” halfway.

If all your breakers are on and the plug still isn’t working, proceed to step three.

3. Tripped GFCI Outlet

Do you know how to identify a GFCI receptacle outlet?

They’re the ones with the rectangular red and black buttons in the center. You’ll find them mainly in your bathroom, kitchen, or outdoors. They’re specially designed to shut off if they detect a short or start overheating (instead of tripping the main breaker).

If one of your kitchen or bathroom plugs stopped working, hit the “reset” button. You may need to do this for every GFCI plug in the room, as one trigger can start a chain reaction.

4. Faulty or Old Electrical System

If your circuit breakers are on and your GFCI plugs have all been reset–and the plug still isn’t working–you could be looking at a more serious problem.

Is your home or apartment building several decades old? If so, the aging wiring can sometimes go bad for no apparent reason. In other cases, the contacts become loose and the plug simply needs to be replaced.

Remember: Don’t try this yourself. Leave any serious repairs to licensed professionals.

5. Outlet Burnout

Aging rock stars aren’t the only things that can suffer from burnout.

If you notice a spark or flare when you plug in your appliance, the outlet may have burned itself out. Any sparking, smoking, or blackening around the plug is a sure sign of burnout.

Discontinue use of the plug immediately and contact a local electrician.

Your Outlet Stopped Working: Problem Solved!

If your outlet stopped working, don’t worry. Chances are, it was for one of these five simple reasons.

What if, despite your best efforts, you couldn’t diagnose the problem yourself? That’s okay.

At All Suburban Electric, our team of expert electricians is here to help. We invite you to contact us today to discuss your questions or concerns.