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New home blues. Just bought a house and finding all the bugs. In my master bedroom there are about 6 plugs on a circuit. I have a couple lamps, a fan, and my phone charge plugged into the circuit, but into different receptacles. I noticed that my phone charger was not working (though the lamp in the same receptacle was working), and when I unplugged it, the whole circuit died. The lamps turned off and the fan stopped. Again, the fan and other lamp were plug into different receptacles. After a while everything works again, but if I remove a plug from the receptacle the issue returns. If I jiggle a plug I can see the lamps dim. I don't even know where to begin on trouble shooting this. I do have a light switch in the room that appears to do nothing. Was assuming this could control outlets, but doesn't appear to. Help.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Interesting question; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Sep 30 at 21:29
  • Can you clarify "after a awhile everything works again"? Did you plug the phone charger back in? Did that fix anything? Does everything suddenly come back on after awhile? Or you wait awhile, then plug the charger back in and everything comes back on? Can you see whether any circuit breakers or fuses are blowing when this happens? (Is it possible the circuit breakers are somewhere else, and some other person is flipping them back on without your knowledge?) This situation seems really weird and sketchy, and you definitely need a real electrician to look at it. – Glenn Willen Sep 30 at 23:01
  • I ended up plugging the charger into another receptacle which was still working. I left the lamps and fan in their current receptacles, and they didn't work. After a bit I tried the lamps and fan; one lamp now works, the other doesn't, and the fan worked . . . until I tried the plugs again. Now just one lamp that works (the one that originally shared the receptacle with the charger) and the other lamp and fan don't work. Yes, something is really off and think I need to hire an electrician. – Eric Oct 1 at 16:27
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First, post a TaskRabbit to get a handyman out to replace the defective socket. One hopes the handyman knows to check the break-off tabs.

The light switch does nothing for a reason such as

  • When you checked receptacles, you only checked one socket per receptacle, because you didn't realize receptacles could be split.
  • In the past, someone replaced receptacles, and didn't check the tabs.

You can find the undiscovered socket. A competent handyman can find the mis-replaced receptacle.

But have the known-bad receptacle fixed first.

  • I checked both sockets on the receptacles to see if the light switch operated them, but nothing. I will call an electrician, but i had a thought. The previous owners had a couple 6-outlet adapters plugged into the receptacles (which I have not removed). Could this contribute to the problem especially since i believe the light switch does control some of the receptacles? – Eric Oct 1 at 16:34
  • @Eric Yes. Some older 6-outlet adapters have metal prongs for both plugs. I was surprised when I started seeing them with one plug entirely plastic (and thought "cheap") and then I realized what happens if you plug a dual-metal one into a tab-broken-off split outlet. It will short out the "split outlet"! MWBCs will explode. On a switched outlet, will defeat the switch. In fact, any such 6-outlet adapter anywhere on the circuit could have that same effect! – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 17:15

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