I had a outlet burn up and throw the main breaker.Now one wall of the living room doesn't have power to the outlets and and two lights on the same wall. And there are odd (one here and one on the other side of the side) outlets in the kitchen and one in the bathroom the doesn't work. All the breaker are on and my tester indicates there is power going through all the hot wires in the breaker box. Please help

  • 2
    Did you replace the outlet that burned? Can you elaborate on what happened to cause the outlet to burn? Feb 16 at 8:08
  • 3
    Show us a picture of your breakers panel with what you call main breaker
    – Ruskes
    Feb 16 at 8:22
  • 2
    Quite a few outlets are part of a circuit, wires go to the outlet and then provide power to other outlets/lights. If one outlet is removed, then the others will not work unless the wires are connected, though a new outlet or wire connections.
    – crip659
    Feb 16 at 12:21
  • 2
    Pictures of your breaker panel, indicating which breaker tripped, and pictures of the burnt outlet and its replacement (showing the wiring of the original and replacement) will go a long way toward helping us help you figure out the problem.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 16 at 12:49
  • I suspect @crip659 has the right guess. Knowing exactly what was done to replace the burnt outlet would clinch it.
    – keshlam
    Feb 16 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


When there is a big overload, particularly big enough to trip the main breaker, anything/everything in the same circuit can be affected, and possibly even other circuits, though I think that is unlikely.

  • Determine which circuit(s) are affected

Identify everything that is currently not working. If you think you know which breaker controls all of that, turn it off and see if anything else stops working. If nothing else stops working then you've probably got the right circuit. If something else stops working it may still be the correct breaker, because it could be a problem in the middle of the circuit, but you need to make sure for safety's sake.

Ideally you should take this time to identify every circuit - i.e., what each breaker controls (lights, receptacles, appliances, etc.).

It is quite possible that you have two breakers that affect this circuit. If that is the case, they should be either an actual double-breaker or two single breakers next to each other and handle-tied. That would be an MWBC, Multi-Wire Branch Circuit. But sometimes such things are not set up correctly. And it is also possible (due to neutral mis-wiring issues) to have additional circuits affected by a problem that started in one circuit.

  • Check every part of the circuit

Now that you know which circuit(s) is affected, leave them off and start working. Go to every affected receptacle, light, switch or other device. Open up the box. Double-check with a Non-Contact Voltage Meter to make sure everything is dead. (You could have, for example, a multiple switch junction box with switches on different circuits including the problem circuit and another circuit that is working perfectly fine.) Don't pull out any wires, receptacles, switches, etc. unless the NCVM shows nothing on any wires.

For each affected item, check for:

  • Backstab connections - these are problematic in general and even more so when there is an overload. Change any (whether they look messed up or not) to screw terminals.
  • Burnt wires - Clean up, tape up (with matching color electrical tape - black or red for hot, white for neutral), make sure you have clean copper and reconnect to screw terminals.
  • Burnt, loose, melted, etc. wire nuts - Replace, checking and cleaning up wires if affected.
  • Burnt, melted, etc. receptacles and switches - Replace. When you do that, look for "spec grade" devices, particularly for "screw to clamp" connections so that you can use straight-in wire connections without using backstabs.

If you find:

  • Burnt/melted plastic boxes (metal won't burn or melt that fast) they should be replaced.
  • Wires that are too short to work with safely (either because they were short to begin with or because of damage)

those are a bit of bigger task - post pictures and details and ask for help.

Once you are all done, turn on the breaker and see what happens. Don't freak out if it trips immediately. (Do freak out if the main breaker trips again.) Fixing/replacing a whole bunch of receptacles and switches can easily include some mishaps along the way, usually fixed by carefully checking everything and, if old boxes are really tight, adding some electrical tape to keep screws from touching metal boxes.

If you know the path followed from the breaker to the devices, you could work on them one at a time with on-going connections left disconnected. But while that is, in my opinion, a better way to work, it requires a little more work to figure out the path first.

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