I just bought a newer home with three bathroom. There are four outlet combine in all bathrooms and none of the works correctly. If I plug in any corded appliances it will not work but if I plug in my rechargeable toothbrush it works.I checked for voltage, I get 120v I checked the wiring it is correct. I replace one outlet still the same. Could it be the breakers is going bad? Any suggestions? Thanks Eric

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    You realize a rechargeable toothbrush doesn't need AC power to work right? One time my sweetie unplugged our rechargeable toothbrush and it worked for days afterward. Eventually the internal battery ran down, otherwise I would've never known. – Harper Jan 21 at 18:54
  • Eric, when you say your "rechargeable toothbrush.. works", do you mean that you can tell that it's charging? As @Harper said above, we can't tell from your question if the battery is making the toothbrush work. The best thing to do here is to take a simple lamp (that you know works!), plug it in, and test the outlet. If it doesn't work, then you either have a breaker/fuse that needs to be reset, a GFCI/AFCI that needs to be reset (push the RESET button), a bad connection to the outlet, or an outlet that's become damaged inside (this is rare). For the last two, ask a qualified electrician. – whiskeychief Jan 22 at 11:23

It sounds like there is a high-resistance connection somewhere that is limiting the amount of current that can be delivered. Your cordless toothbrush is probably pulling very little current. You can confirm this by plugging in and turning on a higher current load (which doesn’t work) and at the same time checking the voltage at another outlet. I expect it will drop to a low voltage.

You can test to see if it is the breaker, if you are comfortable working with the panel cover off. While the load is plugged in, check the voltage on the black or red wire coming out of the breaker. You can probably test the voltage at the screw on the breaker.

Most likely you have a poor splice of other connection somewhere. Do the outlets use back-stabs for the wires? If so, one of them may not be making a good connection. I’d suggest redoing all of the outlets using the side screws instead.

One more thing. When you see the low voltage from hot to neutral, also check voltage neutral to ground. If this rises, the problem is in the neutral wire, not the hot wire.


First, you were fooled by not understanding how battery rechargeable tools work. Actually, the toothbrush recharger isn't working. The toothbrush continues to work because its battery still has some charge. It will run out of battery after a few more days of normal use, because it is not being recharged.

Now let's review the Electrical Code for how bathroom receptacles must be wired. The Code gives you two choices, one or the other.

  • A bathroom receptacle must be on a circuit that ONLY powers things in that bathroom. Or
  • A bathroom receptacle must be on a circuit that only powers bathroom receptacles, in any number of bathrooms.

Your installer chose the second option.

If all the receptacles are out, then the problem must be at the breaker, at the first receptacle or in the cable in between. We know from the Code that the circuit doesn't go anywhere else.

Now, here's another thing that is in Code: bathroom receptacle circuits must be protected by a GFCI device. This monitors electric current going out to the socket and returning, and makes sure all the current that goes out on the normal wire, comes back on the other normal wire. If any current is unaccounted for, it's going through an alternate route, probably shocking you, so it shuts the circuit off.

Since a GFCI monitors flow, it can be anywhere along the line. The best places would be at the breaker or at the first receptacle (the same places I just mentioned). A GFCI device will have a "Test" button. GFCIs are typically combined with either a circuit breaker or a receptacle. The receptacles will also have a "Reset" button. The breakers, just turn them off and on to reset.

I bet if you look in the places I just mentioned twice, you'll find a tripped GFCI, or bad wiring possibly related to backstab wiring. If the GFCI won't reset, there's a problem with one of the appliances plugged in a bathroom. Take each appliance down to the kitchen and plug it in there, and if it trips the GFCI in the kitchen, that's the culprit. If no appliances trip the kitchen, then it's bad wiring.

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