A wall plug shorted in the living room of my one bedroom duplex and now I have no lights in the duplex. The plugs in the living room have no power, three of the four plugs in the bedroom have no power, and the plug in the dining area has no power.

I checked all of the circuit breakers with my multimeter and they all seem good because power comes from all of them and then when I turn the circuit breakers off I lose power. None of the circuit breakers seen flimsy they seem all solid from off to on.

All of the GFCI plugs in the kitchen still have power coming to them. The GFCI plug in the bathroom does not have power coming to it. The only light that works in the duplex is the one in the closet in the bedroom. What could be the problem?

  • You own this duplex? – The Evil Greebo Jun 6 '18 at 16:24
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    Have you had a look at the outlet that was shorted? It may have burn damage, or a poor connection may be opened. – isherwood Jun 6 '18 at 16:29
  • Or wiring behind the walls could have fused as well if it overheated. – The Evil Greebo Jun 6 '18 at 16:32
  • Did the short trip a breaker? If it did not it's possible that some wiring failed before the breaker did. Wires in walls generally don't fail, so this is almost certainly at a wire termination, inside a junction box. It must be between the shorted receptacle and the service panel. There are only so many places it can be. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '18 at 21:28
  • Probably a daisy chained circuit using back stabs, or that has been what I find in a high 90% with these kinds of problems. I hate back stabs but they are legal. Most of the time the problem is in the last working outlet coming from the panel or the first non working one. Check these 2 locations and you will probably find the problem. – Ed Beal Jul 7 '18 at 17:10

What usually hapens is the overload causes the wires to fuse, as Greebo mentions.

But it doesn't fuse just anywhere. It fuses in a very specific place, namely, backstab / push connections. They are notorious for doing this. We recommend using side screws in wiring; backstabs are only intended as a speed shortcut for builders wiring in high production rates.

As you probably know, most circuits are wired in strings. (Legally they are allowed to be wired in "tree" fashion, unlimited branches never looping back on itself... but a vine is a type of tree, isn't it?)

Regardless, if you have some good outlets and some bad ones in the same circuit string, the problem is always at the first bad one, or the last good one. The term "outlet" also includes lighting and other hard-wired loads.


Investigate the shorted wall plug. See what's going on in there. If anything looks suspicious, replace it and put it back together. If nothing is resolved you will need an electrician because it can in fact be many different things. But this is your best starting point.

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