4 Reasons Why Your Outlet Has Stopped Working

Do you have an electrical outlet that just isn't working anymore? This can be frustrating and confusing. The good news is that there are only a handful of reasons why an outlet would stop functioning. Some of the causes are so simple that you can probably fix them yourself. Others may require help from an electrical contractor. Here are four of the most common reasons why an outlet stops working:

The breaker is tripped. This is the simplest and easiest explanation. Before you do anything else, go to your circuit box and make sure the breaker isn't tripped. Your breakers should all be clearly labeled so you can tell which breaker is for which room in the house. Even if they're not labeled, a tripped breaker should be flipped to an "off" position. Sometimes breakers will get stuck in the middle, so it's always best to at least test the breaker to make sure it's in the "on" position. If you can't find the correct breaker, try flipping all of them back to "on" just to be safe.

The GFCI needs reset. Building codes today require outlets near sinks to have something called a ground fault circuit interrupter, also known as a GFCI. A GFCI is a safety device that will cause an outlet to shut down if a short or too much heat is detected. Sometimes they shut down outlets even when there's nothing wrong. When a GFCI shuts down an outlet, a small button in the middle of the outlet pops out. You can reset the outlet by pushing the button back in. One GFCI button can control several outlets along a circuit and even outlets in different rooms. Be sure to check all of the nearby GFCI outlets to get yours working.

The outlet is burnt. Even with protections like breakers and GFCI switches, an outlet can still overheat and burn. If you see black stains around the outside of the outlet, you can be fairly confident that it overheated. The outlet should not be used. Further contact with the outlet could cause a fire. Unless you're very experienced with electrical work, it's usually best if you call in an electrical contractor to repair the outlet.

The outlet is dead. Sometimes outlets just die. This is especially true in older homes. A wire may pop loose or the entire unit may just stop conducting power the way it should. If none of the other causes are the source of the problem, you may just need to have the outlet replaced. An electrical contractor can test the outlet and see if a replacement is needed.

Contact an electrical contractor, like E.J. Gray Electric, for more information. They can inspect the outlet and recommend the best solution.