So after an overload from a power tool, I completely lost all my outlets but the breaker didn't trip.

I pulled that outlet and even removed the box to inspect as much wire as I could but there was no damage to the receptacle or wires.

I tested the breaker and it was 120. The neutral at the panel is also tight and undamaged. There is also a ground wire in the bus bar from that circuit but the outlets themselves have no ground (house was built in 50's)

The outlet I was using was the 3rd of 5 in the circuit. I pulled them all out and inspected but I can't see or smell any issues with the receptacles or wiring.

I figured out the rest of the circuits, so I know the outlets don't have any lights connected to them (although one in the living room is controlled by a switch on the wall)

Is it normal for the 3rd outlet to take out the 1st and 2nd like that?.. And also without tripping the breaker (I also replaced the cb just to eliminate that as a possibility)

*Not sure if I'm supposed to leave a comment or edit my answer to respond.. but it's a Square D panel and I can't trace from the first good or bad receptacle since they're all dead. As in, the very first receptacle after the panel, and then each one after that until the last.

Going in the other direction from the panel are the kitchen receptacles but they're on a separate circuit and working fine.

  • 1
    Do you have voltage at the first receptacle down the chain from the breaker? Dec 12 '19 at 4:16
  • What make and model is the circuit breaker in question? Dec 12 '19 at 4:24
  • Also, is this breaker in the main panel, or in a subpanel? Dec 12 '19 at 4:24
  • 1
    You are definitely supposed to edit your question to respond to questions in the comments. Questions are supposed to be standalone and comments should be regarded as ephemeral. Dec 12 '19 at 11:53

Don't bother inspecting wires that are not in boxes. There's no need, unless you've been doing construction work or have had an earthquake. Wires between boxes are rarely damaged. All the mischief tends to happen where wires terminate, e.g. at receptacles, switches, neutral bars, breakers etc.

Any given receptacle obtains its power from somewhere. Typically that is another receptacle. It could also be a "tee" splice in the wiring; Code requires that any splice be inside a junction box whose cover is accessible without needing tools. For instance above a drop ceiling is OK; covered up by a screwed-down plywood panel is not OK.

So typically your receptacle gets its power from another receptacle, which gets its power from another one, etc. etc.

Your failure is a very common one

The circuit doesn't normally see heavy loading. One of the terminations (wire meets receptacle) isn't very good. The heavy load causes the poor connection to pop like a fuse. Now it's open (non-connecting).

As discussed above, connections are generally "chained" with splits, like a "tree". There is a chain of outlets/splices from the panel, to an outlet, to the next outlet, etc. The failure is always at the first bad outlet, or the last good outlet in the chain.

So if the chain is Panel-A-B-C-D-E-F-G, and you plugged in at F and now B through G are out, then checking D E F G is unconstructive. The problem must be at A or B.

  • One thing I noticed and I'm not sure if I can describe it in a way that makes sense but the receptacle directly before the one that overloaded has two sets of hots and neutrals at the top. But it is directly across from the outlet that's before it (in another room) but in terms of wiring, it's right across from it. Dec 12 '19 at 5:47
  • Okay so it turns out I was coming at this from the wrong way. Apparently all my lights and outlets are running off 1 multiwire branch circuit. Dec 12 '19 at 6:12
  • .. oops , cut myself off. I assumed one was going to the lights and the other was going to the outlets. So while it's great that I fixed my problem.. why in the world do I have a 20a multiwire branch circuit running to nothing? I literally traced everything back to where it goes.. even an old pump house motor. What would they originally have had that connected to it? It's an old house, so the dryer and range have their own separate circuits. The ac, garage, wh, and furnace are all accounted for. Any guesses where those wires might go?? Dec 12 '19 at 6:20

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