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I am having a difficult time with a couple outlets in my kitchen.

They are all on the same circuit, but three of them are dead.

They run in series around the room. When I get to the first dead outlet, I just can't understand what may have (or is) happening.

For explanation, I will call three outlets A.(good), B. (First dead in line) and C. (Second dead in line).

I have ground continuity between all three. I have no hot or neutral continuity between A and B. I have hot and neutral continuity between B and C. I occassionaly get an intermittent beep when looking at hot continuity between A and B, the same is true between A and C.

Seems like the neutral is broken between A and B. But, I don't understand how that could have happened.

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  • If connections are good at A and B, then you are probably looking for dead mice in the wall. Are you sure A is connected/on the same circuit as B? Are any outlets controlled by a switch?
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:18
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    Have you checked how all the wires are connected in A? Can you share a picture? Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:21
  • @crip659 nothing controlled by a switch. The outlets are about two and a half feet from one another. 100% positive they are on the same circuit
    – BangKaboom
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:51

1 Answer 1

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When you look at the first dead receptacle, it may already be too late to find the problem, which might just as likely be at the last good receptacle upstream of it, where the cable or wires in conduit depart from it to feed the first dead receptacle.

99.9% of the time, it's a bad connection at a device terminal, or at a junction box. Wire breaks between those points are stunningly rare. So go over all those connectons (and if any are currently backstabbed, move them to the side screws, or replace the receptacle with a "screw-and-clamp" style rear entry that's not a spring-loaded backstab.)

"Go over connections" means to remove each wire from the device terminal, inspect for damage (such as being cracked/broken from improper stripping of the insulation) and reattach at proper torque for the device terminal, using a torque driver, not "by guess and by golly." If using side-screw connections with out a clamping plate, the hook on the wire must go clockwise, so that tightening the screw pulls it in.

Depending on your test equipment, you can also repeat continuity tests with the wire disconnected from the devices, clamping directly to the stripped wire end

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  • What's really puzzling to me is, the last good outlet and first bad outlet are literally two and a half feet from each other on the wall. I have zero continuity on the neutral between the two and an intermittent tone on the hot. Highly unlikely a rodent got in the space and chewed through it
    – BangKaboom
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:47
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    The wiring may not go straight from one to the other - it may go up or down, then across and down or up, and there might be a junction box somewhere along it. This is especially true if one or both receptacles were installed after the initial construction, so wiring had to be fished into place. A connection failure at a junction box would do this (and illustrates why junction boxes must be accessible, forever.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:53
  • It's a pretty straight forward. Nothing changed since the house was built, no added outlets and no junctions anywhere
    – BangKaboom
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:57
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    @BangKaboom so is your question "why does wiring fail"? Backstabs, or failure to comply with NEC 110.14 (use torque driver), or cheap 50 cent receptacles that break. A quality spec-grade receptacle is $3. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 19:09
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    There are 4 junctions at each receptacle except the last in line. More if a section Tees off at some point. No junctions anywhere - not likely!
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 22:21

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