So this all happened when someone plugged in a space heater into a bedroom outlet. it caused a breaker to blow and a few outlets to stop working aswell. At first i just thought it was a breaker that had blown so i flipped it back on and power was restored to the room but the outlets were still not functional.

Layout of outlets in the affected Rooms

Green Star: Working outlets

Red Star: Non working outlets

Yellow Box: GFI outlets

Purple star: Where the heater was plugged in

Some things ive done to troubleshoot is first check voltages at outlets 2-8 and they are all reading under 120 volts usually around the 4-40 range. i thought it might have been an outlet that had failed internally and stopped working. So i replaced outlets 2-8 and 10 but the same issue persists i tried using a fluke tone generator to see if the space heater caused some degragation in the wire because of the wattage it required but i was able to succesfully trace the tone from 2-8 and from 1-2 and from 10-9 so im not really sure what the issue could be at this point the breaker seems solid, ive replaced all effected outlets, Double checked GFI's and replaced affected ones. Sort of at a loss here.

Note:Ive also firmly pushed all breakers on and off

Something interesting is the outlets are 2 pronged even though the breaker box is grounded

  • Are there ground wires at the receptacles? Jun 1, 2018 at 0:51
  • Negative there are no ground wires at the receptacles i found one with a ground that was tied to the metal box that was housing it but removed it.
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 0:58
  • That's why the outlets are 2-pronged. The breaker box being grounded doesn't help if the ground wire isn't also carried to the receptacles. Jun 1, 2018 at 1:05
  • gotcha just found it weird i thought older houses with two pronged outlets didnt have a grounded breaker box thats why they were two pronged.
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:07
  • Houses with 2-pronged outlets didn't originally come with breaker panels. (fuse panel - yours was replaced)
    – Mazura
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:10

2 Answers 2


Officially, wiring is done in a tree topology - each segment branches off another. However, in practice, most wiring is done in a vine topology -- they're all in a row.

Either way... the problem is in one of two places.

  • The last receptacle which works
  • The first receptacle which does not work.

Fiddling with any other receptacles won't do a thing.

That's because the problem is in the wire or the wire ends/splices. Failure of a wire is extremely rare. It's almost always where the wire connects to something else.

The usual cause is a "back stab" wire connection into the socket: the kind where you jab it into a hole and the socket just grabs the wire. Backstabs are legal way to wire sockets - one time - but they're not very reliable*. It is much, much better to use the side screws.

* Backstabs are made for a single use. If you pull the wire out, the spring is sprung. Also, when you are shoving the receptacle back into the socket, forces on the wires can lift it off its intended contact area, or overload the spring and cause it to lose tension.

  • thanks a bunch i know there were a mixed variety of backstab and side screw outlets i checked to see if they were lose but thats all, would you recommend changing them to side screw?
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:19
  • 1
    tl;dr: use pig tails for the love of god please and thank you.
    – Mazura
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:19
  • 1
    Oh yes, pigtails make this easier still. You still do the side screws, but you get to do them at a comfortable workbench. Only work you have to do on your knees/ladder is join 3 wires with a wirenut. Jun 1, 2018 at 1:31
  • gotcha im going to replace the backstabs with side screws
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 2:01

"I've replaced all effected outlets." - if one of the ones that still works feeds any of these, you haven't found 'all effected outlets'.

Figure out which working outlet feeds one of the dead ones, and replace that one, because whether you can see it or not, it's probably scorched.

  • Gotcha so youre saying outlets 1 or 9 would there be any reason that it would be a connection issue even if a tone generator was able to wrok across them. Could they have failed internally but still somewhat operational?
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 0:55
  • @Gizmoguy - Intuition will help you find the likely outlet, but by no means is it definitely 1 or 9. It could be a junction box in your attic... I wouldn't trust a tone gen unless you're 100% sure the entire circuit is unloaded (not for safety per say, but because a load will provide continuity). Toggle the breaker that blew, and note which outlets go out - it's one of those, probably.
    – Mazura
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:06
  • AH wasnt aware that load could cause skew results with a tone gen ill try that as my next means thanks a bunch
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:12
  • @Gizmoguy - GL. The only time I use a TG is when I have a freshly pulled bundle of wire, as of yet to be connected from either end. You've ruled out Harper's first receptacle which does not work - you're left with The last receptacle which DOES work. --- assuming it's not a mystery junction box.
    – Mazura
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:16
  • 1
    god i hope its not a mystery junction box....
    – Gizmoguy
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:25

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