I was using some power tools in my garage and the fuse blew. I replaced the fuse but the outlet still didnt work. It was an older outlet without buttons so its not GFCI. The outlet is in the garage, and the downstairs bathroom light runs off the same fuse. After replacing the fuse the bathroom light works but the garage outlet does not. Beside the outlet is a switch for the garage light as well, which also doesnt work.

So I replaced both the outlet and switch.

When I plug anything into the new outlet (tried shop-vac and small lamp) it doesnt work and the garage light doesnt work either.

My plugin tester shows wiring is correct, nothing reversed or open.

With my multimeter I get 117 vots hot to neutral , 3 volts neutral to ground, and 122 volts hot to ground.

At the light fixture I get the same 117-120 volts cant remember exactly when the switch is on.

By all accounts when I plug something into the outlet or flick the light switch I should get power, but nothing happens. Seems like I've tried everything and am really scratching my head. Thought I would ask here first to see if there is anything obvious that I missed before calling electrician.

Any ideas? Thanks.

  • Make sure there's not a GFCI upstream from the outlet that's giving you trouble. Don't use backstabs when replacing outlets.
    – JACK
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 19:12
  • 2
    When you say replaced the fuse, do you mean switched the breaker off and then on, or did you change the breaker? Or do you actually have fuses in your panel? Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 22:07
  • Can't find any other outlets upstream only light switches so don't think GFCI is an issue. Yes we actually have fuses in the panel that I physically replaced. It's an older townhome built in the 70's.Also all wires are attached to the screws on the side of the receptacle, hot on brass, neutral on silver. Everything is screwed tight, wires under screws etc.
    – JosephTJC
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 22:41
  • Plug a load into the nonfunctioning receptacle then measure the voltages H-N, H-G, N-G...what do you get when you do this? Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 23:37
  • Plugged a shop-vac into the receptacle and turned power on. Hot to neutral was 0 volts, neutral to ground 120 volts and i forgot to measure hot to ground will do tomorrow if needed. Also the new switch I got that goes beside the receptacle has a small light on it so you can see it in the dark, its lighted but when I turn on the shop-vac the light goes out.
    – JosephTJC
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


You blew another “fuse”

Well, it’s not meant to be a fuse. It’s meant to be a solid wire splice. But it was weak to begin with, but the high draw from your adventure finished it off.

it’s a wire connection either at the last outlet that is working, or the first outlet that has failed. You’ll need to check both of them.

Often, you can’t clearly identify the sequence. If so, you’ll need to check all the outlets in the circuit including switches and lamps.

Both visually inspect, and also check tightness of the screws. Note that you can’t do either one on a “back stab” type connection. As it happens, those are also the worst culprits in cases like this. That’s why we don’t like them. Builders love them because they’re fast. But this is the price you pay.

Since you quite efficiently answered ThreePhaseEel’s questions, we can say definitively that the trouble is with the neutral wire. That is the only one you really need to check.

  • Just so I got this right, the neutral to ground should always be low voltage like 3 volts or less? Even under load conditions? When i test all the other receptacles/switches on the same fuse the neutral to ground wires should measure low voltage under load? whichever receptacle with a neutral to ground voltage of 120 volts is the bad one?
    – JosephTJC
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 20:02
  • Yes, correct @JosephTJC, 3 volts or less unless we’re dealing with extreme wire distances, and then maybe 4-5 tops. . However read my paragraph 2 closely. Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 21:15
  • Looks like there was more outlets on that fuse than I thought. 2 outlets in the top bedroom, 3 outlets in the living room above the garage, 2 hallway lights at the front door, a bathroom light, an outside light at the front door, and then finally the garage outlet and beside that a switch for the garage light. Tested all receptacles before the non-functioning garage outlet with a plug-in tester, all showed correct wiring not reading any open neutrals. The plug-in tester also shows the garage outlet as correct wiring with no opens.
    – JosephTJC
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 2:29
  • I think I can rule out the outlets since they are farther away from the non-functioning outlet. Will check the switches closest to that outlet next. Closest switches are in the hallway right next to front door, box has 3 I believe NMD aluminum cables coming in with a hot, neutral and ground each. All 3 neutrals are spliced together, tested the splice on all 3 grounds and got 0 volts under load. Will check bathroom switch next which is on the same wall on the other side.
    – JosephTJC
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 2:44
  • I have an outside light that hasnt worked for a long time and nothing is connected. Would that have anything to do with the garage outlet not working? I took a look inside and its just 2 black wires coming in from the house. Someone disconnected everything when it stopped working, i think another electrician looked at it years ago and said a mouse ate the wires or something. Not sure if theres supposed to be a white wire coming in. Between the two black wires I get 105 volts with switch on, nothing with switch off.
    – JosephTJC
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 14:50

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