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I just had two outlets go. They were working fine and when I plugged the pressure washer in, both stopped working. My Klein voltage tester indicates red (hot). No breakers are flipped. Is this an outlet problem? Again, both were working fine and now read got but nothing plugged in is working.

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A connection burned out

Outlets are typically wired in a chain. One of the wires was making poor contact, and the high but allowable load burned out this poor connection.

It will be on either the last good outlet in the chain, or the first bad one. It will be on the white wire.

If the connections involve the wire jabbed into a tiny hole in the back of the socket (not directly under a screw), that is a backstab. They are notoriously unreliable for this sort of thing. Most of convert to either screw terminals or screw-to-clamp type connections anytime we see a backstab.

We know it's not a GFCI because you get a hot indication.

  • So where do I start and how do I replace this? New outlets? – Jordan Jun 10 at 0:53
  • Sitting here thinking about this, I start in the attic. The outlet that stopped working today was installed by yours truly. When the periodically outlet stopped working last time I ran electric for this new outlet my self and installed myself. Common sense would say the bad connection is at the attic light where I ran from. – Jordan Jun 10 at 0:59
  • I think you're onto it! You can do new outlets if you want to, but not necessary if you use screws. Screws are inspectable. An advantage to new outlets is you can get the screw-to-clamp variety which are about $2.75. Certainly backstabs should never be reused, once you twist a wire out the spring is sprung, but we advise against any use of backstabs, so reuse also obviously :) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 10 at 1:13
  • The attic light has electric in the wire that leads to the outlet, and then loses electric somewhere in the wall. I’m going to disconnect that wire, install a new box and run a new wire to the outlet. They must have staples through it or hammered the staples too tight and sheared the wire housing. – Jordan Jun 18 at 13:04
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Most likely they're on a GFCI circuit. Look on either outlet, or yet another nearby, for a reset button.

Large motors have an inductive "kick" that can trigger a GFCI even when there is no issue.

  • I’ve been resetting the gfi in the shed that I suspect is connected to the garage. I’ve been pressing the reset on the one outlet in the garage that has a gfi on it and the outlet on the front porch that blew as well as the other outlet do not have gfi buttons. No success. I pulled them both out and the wiring inside is tight. – Jordan Jun 9 at 20:18
  • @Jordan is the outlet wired using screws or backstabs? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 9 at 20:35
  • You mean white, black and ground? Screws. There’s another outlet in the garage that has back stabs that has worked periodically over the years. There’s also an outlet on the ceiling that is still working. All are hooked to the same breaker bc when I turn breaker off, there is no hot in any of them. – Jordan Jun 9 at 23:17

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