I am in an apartment and have a small bar between living room and kitchen. In that bar is an outlet. It is NOT on the same breaker as the living room lights, fan, or outlets.

Recently my lights and outlets quit working in the living room area. We had 7 kids over for a birthday so since the outlet on the bar was working, I know because my phone charger was plugged into it, we moved the TV to that part of the room. When I plug the tv into the bottom outlet all the lights, ceiling fan, and outlets start working in the living room. This only happens in the bottom outlet and NOT the top outlet. How is this possible since they are on separate breakers?

I'm not sure if it's relevant but there is a roof leak in apartment. We have mold growing in closets in one bedroom, landlord says it is not mold, and water drips from air vent in ceiling in dining room when it rains. Nothing close to this plug though.

Standing under ceiling fan. Outlet is just above my jacket on bar wall.

enter image description here

  • Don't use those plugs with the TV in place. Just because they have voltage doesn't mean that it is safe for you or the TV. Also, you say this is an apartment which means you can't do any work at all on the electrical (assuming rented apartment). So we can give you hints as to what is wrong, but even opening up an outlet to look at wires is questionable.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 18, 2019 at 18:26
  • I don’t plan on doing any work. They are brand new apartments. I am the first person to live here. Mngement is very slow responding and we have a maintenance man who can’t do anything because it is all still under warranty. Btw, not using the plug, I only used it to make the video I have of what is going on. Nov 18, 2019 at 19:35
  • They are lying to you. Get that stuff fixed before the developer goes bankrupt.
    – Jasen
    Nov 19, 2019 at 9:00

3 Answers 3


Teething pains in new work like this, is routine enough: most buildings are built in a hurry, and they use lawful techniques which speed assembly but have lower reliability. (and one reason the builder wants to be involved in warranty work, is to track failure rates to evaluate whether these cost-saving shortcuts are actually worth it). So it's the Chinese model; do low-reliability work and "eat" the cost of expected failures, because that totals out to cheaper than doing good work. Ain't it great living in this modern age?

Of course the landlord's best play is to just fix it internally and stick it to the builder. But also, it behooves the landlord for the builder to be smarter about building methods. None of this is any excuse to leave you on the dangle for getting this fixed.

As for what it is, not our problem; only licensed electricians can work in a rental unit. Top of our suspect list around here is "backstab connections" on receptacles and switches. Note that none of these shortcuts are particularly unsafe; for instance backstabs tend to fail open, meaning power dies beyond that point in the circuit and that's all. That makes a certain amount of sense. The agency that writes the Electrical Code is the National Fire Prevention Association, so one guess as to their priorities; and the agency that approves electrical devices is Underwriter's Laboratories, and "underwriter" means "insurance company". As long as it fails safely their concerns are satisfied.


Try turning off the power to the bar outlet and also the power to the living room lights and outlets. Pull out the bar outlet and inspect it for loose connections, especially on the white,neutral, wire. The two breakers you turned off could be sharing the neutral and it could be loose in the bar outlet or connected by the backstabs in the outlet.


There are 2 things I'd check. Or, hire an Electrician, regardless of Landlord, to figure out the situation.

But anyway, first would be to inspect, correct and tighten any insertion of breakers and wiring at the panel, since you'll turn off the bar breaker for check #2.

Second, pull the bar's outlet out to see if the tab between screws is present or not. If not, then the outlet is split and wired into 2 circuits.

If so, and everything was tight and right at the panel, then a bigger draw arced a connection from the bus bar to a loose breaker or similarly any other connection in the circuit.

Squeezing the breaker's beak tighter with pliers can permanently remedy the problem. Other connections would need redoing under the wire nuts, starting with the bar outlet's box.

  • 1
    OP can't work on the panel since they are a tenant (only licensed electricians can work in rental units). Complicating matters is the building is new and under warranty, so the builder wants to have control of repairs for warranty purposes (diagnosing whether it's a builder defect or abuse). Nov 18, 2019 at 21:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.