About a week ago about 7 outlets stopped working in my house. The weird thing is they are in different rooms, but other outlets in these rooms still work.

In my playroom which was once a garage that someone turned into a big room there are 2 outlets that stopped working, in our living room 1 outlet isn’t working, in our room 1 outlet isn’t working, and in my daughters room 3 out of 4 outlets stopped working.

We checked the breaker box, but nothing was switched off, still I went through and turned everything off on the breaker box, and then back on, but it didn’t help at all. My husband and I don’t know anything about electrical, but my husband knows a lot about home improvement and fixing things, just electrical is the one thing he knows nothing about. He did buy a new outlet to try and replace one and see if that helped, and if it did he was going to do it to all of them, but come to find out all the outlets are hot, and has electricity going to them, but if you plug anything in them it won’t work. It doesn’t make any sense to us since the outlets are in different rooms of the house, and on different sides of the house.

We would love to try and figure this out ourselves, but if need be we can hire someone in a few weeks. Something I saw when researching this was maybe we somehow overloaded something with our Christmas lights, but that still wouldn’t make sense as to why so many random outlets just stopped working.

Not sure if this has anything to do with it, but a couple days before the outlets stopped working, the light switch to our playroom stopped working. We can go in and pull the string on the fan/light that’s in there and the light will turn on and off like that, but the light switch to it no longer works to turn the light on. I was going to go ahead and buy a tool that lets us know if a plug is working, and if it has electricity going to it, but I’m not sure exactly what I need to get.

How do we go about trouble shooting this?

2 Answers 2


"...but come to find out all the outlets are hot, and has electricity going to them, but if you plug anything in them it won’t work."

This tells there is a good chance the neutral is lost.

To begin with check that box with the light switch that gave you problems. There may be a bundle of neutrals in the back of the box that have a loose wire. If that does not show a problem, go to the breaker box.

Carefully check that the neutral (white) wire to that circuit is firmly attached to the neutral bar. If it is, you will have to check each outlet for a loose neutral.

Perhaps plugging in Christmas lights on a loose outlet caused the wire to come loose. ( not attached properly to begin with.)

  • This can happen especially if the receptacles were wired with "backstabs" where the wire is stripped, then pushed straight into a hole on the back of the receptacle, instead of being tightened down under a screw. The backstab is held in place by a small copper spring and after years of plugging/unplugging they can wiggle loose. Far better to loose power than generate sparks & start a fire!
    – FreeMan
    Jan 11 at 12:58

There are a number of possibilities.

The first is that when you look in the breaker panel there is a breaker that is tripped but it just isn't obviously tripped. I'd start here. Flip each breaker on and off in turn. Your breaker will either be a 15amp or a 20amp breaker since this is a outlet/light circuit (assuming you are in north america).

If flipping all the breakers off and then back on doesn't do it then you probably have a disconnected or loose wire in the circuit.

You could also have a tripped GFCI or AFCI breaker depending on your breakers or a tripped GFCI that downfeeds other outlets ( should be unlikely ).

Circuits fed by a breaker generally provide power to ~15 devices (outlets/lights). Depending on how the wiring is done a loose connection at device 3 might prevent power from reaching devices 4-15. Generally when they run the wire they do the easiest thing so if you figure out all the places you don't have power and figure out the closest places that still do have power then you start there. Finding and fixing a loose electrical connection does require some electrical know how though. Turning off the breaker for the circuit, making sure the device you are working on isn't energized ( contact less volt detector or multi-meter ), knowing how to recognize a loose connection, etc.

If you can't afford an electrician to come out you might just want to call up some handyman types as this shouldn't involve any crazy level of electrical skill.

  • It seems they already reset all the breakers. However, if there's a tripped GFCI receptacle they missed seeing somewhere, that's definitely something to look for.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 11 at 12:56

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