I recently lost power to about five outlets on an eight outlet circuit in the kitchen. For what it is worth, there is a GFCI on the first outlet and the last outlet. The last outlet (GFCI) is showing no power (no LED) and will not reset. When I connect my Epsilant tester to the four outlets that are not working, only the green center light goes on indicating "missing neutral". The first GFCI works fine and I can trip any outlet in the circuit and it will trip the GFCI. In addition to the GFCI, two other outlets work.

Why would some of the outlets in the circuit work, but not others? What should I look to do to troubleshoot? Is it likely a faulty outlet, or something else? I'm guessing that the last GFCI in the chain is not operating because it just isn't getting power? Any help greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. If an answer is helpful, please click the large check mark next to it to accept. – Daniel Griscom Oct 1 '20 at 2:28

The last GFCI surely has no power and thus the off LED and the inability to reset.

If it is a missing NEUTRAL as you suspect this could be at any of the outlets. Be aware that outlets are typically wired in a long string with cables going from one to the next and the next and so on. Working outlets are going to be closer to the source power feed of the string before the open neutral.

A very common type of failure in cases like this is outlets that were hooked up using the poke in wire connections on the back side of the outlet. These are also commonly referred to as back stab connections. These are notorious for being unreliable and resulting in open circuits. You could check for this type of connections as a next step by shutting off the power to this circuit at the breaker/fuse box and then opening the outlets in question to see if they are back stabbed.

  • Thanks for the input, ThreePhaseEel and Michael. OK, I turned off the power and then opened up each outlet. I checked each outlet and all wires are side connected. At a couple of points there were wires pigtailed and wire nutted together and I disconnected and then reconnected those wires to make sure that wasn't my problem. When I turn back on the power, I'm still having the same issue with the outlet tester saying that I'm missing the neutral on the non-working outlets. What should I do next for troubleshooting? I do have a voltage meter (I'll need to dust that off). – ZMonet Oct 1 '20 at 13:23
  • Thanks so much, everyone! Based on your advice, I ended up replacing one of the working outlets (the one I guessed was the last one in the chain). Not sure if the outlet was faulty or what, but now everything is back up and working. Thanks for not making me call an electrician out and, even more, for giving me a better understanding of my electrical outlets. – ZMonet Oct 1 '20 at 14:54

Check for a bad splice or connection in the neutral at the last good outlet

Between the outlet-tester results and the lack of power to the GFCI at the end of the chain, this is likely a bad splice or connection at the last good outlet's neutral. Backstab-type connections on receptacles are commonly to blame for this; if you see any, converting them to side-screws is a better bet.

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