I just moved into a new place. I plugged my vacuum into an electrical outlet, my vacuum won't turn on. So I tried the other side, my vacuum turns on. I then plug in a lamp to the side that won't work for my vacuum, lamp turns on.
Is the outlet defective?

  • 8
    Leave the lamp plugged in. Are there any light switches or dimmers anywhere close enough to conceivably want to control a lamp in this location? Try them and see if the lamp changes. Dec 24, 2019 at 21:00
  • and try both plugs on that outlet.
    – JACK
    Dec 24, 2019 at 23:44
  • 1
    Do you have any meters? Can you verify if that outlet has a low voltage problem or there is no voltage at all? Also see Harpers and Jack comments. Dec 25, 2019 at 16:08
  • I opened the cover, don't know why the owner has the outlet completely plastered to the wall, even if I wanted to replace it, couldn't. I did try both plugs with my vacuum cleaner, one side will work the other side won't work for the vacuum, but will work for a lamp.
    – oliveoil10
    Dec 26, 2019 at 19:42
  • 3
    The spring clips are probably bad/old in one part of the receptacle, it happens. With the lamp, the amount of current it needs is so low that it works good enough. But with the large motor on the vacuum, the high current draw causes the spring clips to heat up instantly, pulling them away and making the voltage drop so low that something in the vacuum is shutting down to protect itself. Bottom line, that receptacle needs to be changed, that's a potential fire hazard.
    – JRaef
    Dec 26, 2019 at 23:28

2 Answers 2


Maybe it is wired that way on purpose. Two receptacles in our bedroom are wired like that. One side is normal,always on. The other side is operated by a wall switch so you can turn on a plugged-in lamp with the wall switch and have a radio always powered by the other side.

  • 1
    If a standard switch is involved, how would the vacuum not work and the lamp would work at the same outlet? No information is given about any switch action between testing those 2 devices at the same outlet.
    – xeeka
    May 26, 2020 at 16:23

Definitely change it.it may not even be,or ever was originally connected to a stud. find the closest stud to that mess,cut that mess out then patch the sheetrock after you change the outlet and insert it into the proper box that's nailed to a stud. Around here you could have it repaired for around $100. Done yourself about $15 to $20.

  • 1
    Where did you get the impression that the junction box is loose? Regardless, this doesn't address the question that was posed.
    – isherwood
    May 26, 2020 at 15:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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