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I was mowing the lawn with my electric corded lawnmower and went as far as I could with the cord. Unfortunately this put pressure on the outlet (which was already a little wobbly) causing it to partially bend out of the socket and the lawnmower suddenly stopped working. I tried plugging it in different outlets and it still does not work. I also made sure that the extension cord was not the problem by testing it and seeing that it works with other devices.

Based on this limited information, what do you think the problem may be? Did I fry the engine?

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    When you say "outlet" do you mean "plug"? Usually the colloquial term "outlet" refers to the pair of sockets. I have 75k rep here and I can still fumble up terms (I always mess up wire vs cable, and that one matters) so it's often best to go for the simplest most familiar term. "bit on the end of the cord with the metal sticking out" isn't too low a bar :) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 19 at 15:40
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Did you try a different extension cord with a different outlet into the mower? Would you add a picture of the bent plug? – Daniel Griscom Apr 19 at 16:02
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    Most likely scenario from what you describe is that you pulled the wire so hard that at either the plug end or the lawnmower end of the cord you've disconnected at least one wire. – Ecnerwal Apr 19 at 17:13
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  • Check your breaker box. If you have a kicked breaker, you may have pulled a wire loose, which caused a short, which kicked the breaker. The second outlet may be on the same circuit. Do not reset the circuit until the short is fixed.
  • You may have broken a wire in the lawnmower's cord, probably near the plug.
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I bet you tripped your circuit breaker or GFCI. Especially with a wobbly outlet.

Check the panel for a tripped breaker. Also check all your other outlets around the outside, garage, utility rooms etc. for a tripped GFCI. It's normal for a GFCI in one place to feed/protect other outlets elsewhere. (hey, outlets are $3, GFCIs are $20, why wouldn't you?)

If you got a breaker trip, the hot wire most likely touched and you may even see scorch marks on whatever hit. If it was a GFCI trip, then you won't see marks, and the neutral screws may also have hit (GFCI detects that too).

Why?

First I want to say metal junction boxes are a good thing. Why below.

But outlets are not supposed to be floppy. If it's moving around in the junction box, the screws have loosened up or it's broken. What happened is, the box has screws on the side intended for attaching the wires. Often, builders in a hurry just jab the wires in the back-stab connections, and leave the screws sticking all the way out (at their maximum where they hit their detent; they can be taken farther but it damages the outlet if you do). If the receptacle shifts around, the screws either hit the side of a metal box, or a bare ground wire.

The pro (read: not in a hurry) method is to either use side screws, or a deluxe outlet ($3 instead of 60 cents) where the wires are clamped down by tightening the screws. And tighten down unused screws. Some will also wrap a few turns of electrical tape all the way around the sides of the receptacle, to cover the screws.


Why are metal boxes good? If there is arcing inside a box, they ground it and hopefully trip the breaker. If there's a hotspot, they efficiently conduct the heat away from the hotspot to prevent it starting a fire. A plastic box doesn't conduct heat very well, instead it melts and helps set the wall on fire (it has anti-flame additives so it won't start, but if an external heat source starts it, it will burn -- plastic is made of petroleum.) Once a fire gets started in your walls, it's all over but the shoutin'.

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