We have no power to our downstairs bedroom. We had the lights on, and a heater plugged in to the outlet. A family member turned off the heater, and unplugged it from the outlet. When she unplugged it, the lights went out in the room, and we can’t get power back. The hallway is on the same circuit, and the lights and power in the hallway are fine. It’s only the back half of the house that has lost power. In the bedroom with no power, there are two switches, each controlling separate light fixtures (both are dark), and one outlet, which was what got unplugged to start this mess. Here’s what I have tried so far:

  • Reset the breakers.
  • Swapped out the outlet with a new outlet.
  • Checked all outlets and switches with a pen-style volt tester. They all indicate that they have power, and the switches seem to be functioning (tester confirms on-off). The only thing I haven’t tested are the light fixtures.

I opened the switch box which contains the switches for both the bathroom (operating) and the bedroom (dark), and the switch arrangement looks really suspect to me. Picture attached.enter image description here

  • Are you finding the sockets use backstab connections or are the wires wrapped around the screw terminals? If the latter, are they tight? Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 6:27
  • 1
    No power in the bedroom is off topic here. Ask your doctor.
    – Kris
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 14:25
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    The outlets and switches are all pretty new (replaced within the last year), and all done with screw terminals. When I've pulled them out, they've all looked pretty secure-- no loose or moving wires.
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 21:39
  • I take it power enters at the bottom of your diagram? Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 3:30
  • @ThreePhaseEel - I think so— I’m not sure how any of the wiring is routed through this section of the house. If I turn the switches off, though, my volt tester shows power on the bottom of the switches (connected to neutral), and not the top (connected to hot).
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 3:41

2 Answers 2


Sounds like the neutral connection somewhere

If the neutral is out, power would show on the hot (pen tester on switches and outlets), but when you try to complete a circuit (lamp or outlet) there would be no place for the power to go to complete the circuit, so nothing would actually turn on. That wouldn't fit a GFCI trip (or AFCI or regular breaker trip) since those would cut the hot. But it would fit a broken neutral. Assuming you swapped the outlet properly, the next place to check is the outlet BEFORE the first bad bedroom outlet - likely in the hallway. Check that outlet for loose connections (especially backstabs) or any sign of arcing, burning, etc. If it has backstabs you may be able to switch to screws - otherwise, especially if you see any other problems, replace that outlet and see if the problem is resolved.

  • The only other outlets on the circuit would be in the bathroom, and each room (bathroom and bedroom) are controlled by separate switches. Is there anything to inspect on the switches between them?
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 21:41
  • I checked all of the outlets in the bathroom, and no sign of arcing, loose wires, etc.
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 3:50
  • "The hallway is on the same circuit, and the lights and power in the hallway are fine." Have you checked every connection, wire nut, etc. in the hallway? Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 3:54
  • Hallway only contains the switches for the two rooms (diagrammed in picture), and one overhead light. No outlets. Checked the switches a couple of times, and the light as well.
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 4:52
  • I'm a bit confused by the diagram. Need to see: Where/how do hot & neutral come from the panel to this group of rooms, and then hot, neutral, switched hot to/from each outlet, switch, lamp? As I understand the diagram (which may be my misunderstanding), I see NO incoming wires, two switches, 3 outlets, no lamps (unless they are some of the outlets?). Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 5:04

Since you state, "When she unplugged it, the lights went out in the room," this seems like the inductive "kick" caused by breaking the circuit caused the issue, rather than overload from the heater.

Look for a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI or GFI) like that in the image below. These outlets are designed to help prevent electric shock, but are also sensitive to sudden surges. Since they're usually specified in wet locations, the outlet might be in a basement or bathroom, but wired to provide protection in the bedroom.

GFCI Outlet from http://www.walterstristate.com/gfci-outlets/

  • But then the tester wouldn't show power in the outlets & switches as described. Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 5:02
  • Thanks-- there are no GFCIs in the room which is dark. There are in the bathroom next to it, which is on the same circuit. I checked them, and they all showed the green indicator lights, although I didn't push in the reset buttons to test them. I'll give it a shot.
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 21:37
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    I reset all the GFCIs, and no effect.
    – T-House
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 1:33

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