My wife's grandma has been in her house over 50 years. Can't find A GFCI anywhere in the house. I have two bedrooms without power from her plugging too many things in at one time. All other rooms have power.

I went to the panel. Looked to me as no breakers were tripped. Panel is also not labeled. I removed and capped the outlet that she popped just for the time being. Then decided to recheck all the breaker. I reset all breakers none still don't appear tripped but I also know they can go bad after years. I would be surprised if one did go out without any indication.

What's my next step?

  • Are the two bedrooms on the same breaker/circuit? Also, were the receptacles wired using "back-stabs", or the side-screws? Apr 11, 2019 at 11:44
  • Look for an old sub-panel, possibly even a fuse-type panel depending on how old the house is - might have been the main panel once upon a time... 50 years is also a ripe age for the potential of aluminum wiring, in the US, anyway, which is prone to a variety of interesting/scary failure modes.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 11, 2019 at 16:06
  • Also possible that the "removed and capped" outlet is the first one in line, and everything else is dead if it's disconnected? Not clear from the description if that's a terminal (only wire in) or in-line (wires in and wires out) outlet, and what you actually did if it's in-line.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 11, 2019 at 18:13

2 Answers 2


Typically this ends up being a failed connection at a receptacle or other device in the chain. Effectively the connection acted like an "amateur" circuit breaker.

90% of the time this is due to the connection being a "backstab type" where the wire is stabbed into a hole.

If you know the topology of the wiring, the failure must be either at the last good outlet, or the first bad one.


IF you are sure there is no gfci somewhere daisy chained into the circuit, and you know which breaker is supposed to power those two rooms, you can measure the output at the breaker itself, to make sure power is coming out of it.

If it is old enough, maybe instead of tripping, something snapped inside of the breaker, making it appear as though it is on when in reality there is no connection being made

I would think you could just take a voltmeter, put one side on the ground or neutral, and the other side of the voltmeter to where the output portion of this breaker is, aka where the wire comes out of the breaker.

If you get nothing, then you got your answer.

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