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How to diagnose a dead outlet

Electrical Wires Sparking

One of the most common electrical problems that faces homeowners is dead outlets. It doesn't matter if you live in an ancient home or your property was just built last year, dead outlets happen in almost every house and for a number of reasons.

Usually, an outlet will go out because the breaker or fuse that it is affiliated with it has been blown. Generally, this will occur because too much pressure is being put on the outlet for the power source to handle. The cause is usually a large appliance plugged in, like an air conditioner that is either an older model, meaning it probably uses extra electricity, or that is sharing the plug with another high-wattage appliance.

You'll need to go to either your fuse or breaker box to fix this problem. If your home uses breakers, flip the switch that corresponds with the outlet in question firmly into the off position, making sure it completely falls in place. Your breakers should be labeled, so identifying which one to switch should be relatively easy.

If you have a fuse box, make sure that your replacement fuse has the same wattage as the one that blew before twisting it into place.

Should the outlet still be out of commission once you take care of the fuse or breaker, the next most likely problem is that there is a weak spot somewhere along the circuit. Generally this happens over a long period of time, but even new houses can experience weaknesses in the wiring if the job wasn't done correctly. This may also be the explanation if you notice that one of the plugs in your outlet is working fine, but the other one fails to provide power. In this case, contact experienced Fairfax electrical services like John C. Flood to investigate the problem, since dealing with electricity can be very dangerous for non-professionals.