There is an outlet in my place that tests ok but when I plug in anything, it doesn't power up. The tester I'm using is a three light tester.Actually, I've used two testers. Both of them indicate the it is correct. What gives??? Anyone have an idea?

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    It may be a broken wire or faulty back stab connection. It is possible to light the neon lamps in the tester but with a load the wiring opens. I have seen this in the past and tho problem may be in a prior outlet If part of a daisy chain.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 21, 2017 at 18:49
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    @EdBeal that's pretty much the answer I would write. Apr 21, 2017 at 19:12
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    Comment answers are a pox on SE. :) I never know whether to write basically the same thing in order to resolve the question or wait around for the commenter to do it and get credit.
    – isherwood
    Apr 21, 2017 at 19:21
  • Ed and Harper, Thank you for that answer. I did not know that about those testers. I thought those were the best thing since buttered bread.
    – Steve M.
    Apr 21, 2017 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


The three-light testers typically only draw a tiny current and usually use neon indicators that work at less than full voltage. They are good for showing a few common miswiring problems (e.g. where live and neutral have been swapped or where ground is not connected) but they are not good for showing bad connections which have a high resistance or which separate when hot.

I would turn off the breaker, verify power is off at the outlet and open it up and check the connections. The next step would be to swap the outlet with a new one or with another nearby working outlet.

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