I have a receptacle that just stated acting weird. It has been in use for 3 years.

I have had a floor light and a phone charger plugged into the outlet consistently on a daily basis with no problems. Today the receptacle on the bottom will not power the light.

The top will power the light. The strange thing is that when i plug another device into the receptacle both top and bottom will work and power the device. When I take the same light and plug into other receptacles in the same room its works fine. Puzzling to say the least.

  • 1
    Was there plugging in and unplugging or just left the plugs in all the time? About the only thing I can think of is the light plug and outlet has worn down enough that connection is not made anymore, but new plugs/different outlets are tighter.
    – crip659
    Jan 19 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


Everything works properly until it doesn't. When I moved into my home, which was about 25 years old at the time, I replaced every single outlet and light switch. Most were floppy and loose (and grungy). They wear out--especially if they're "builder grade" with low quality contact springs.

Change the outlet. Be sure you understand the safety implications and how to make proper connections if you're new to wiring.

  • Once you’ve turned off the breaker and started to take the receptacle out, take a few pictures of how the wires are connected. Especially have good pictures of the screws on both sides. Jan 20 at 13:54

Your bottom outlet giving problems may be supposed to only be powered when a light switch is on. When you remove the old outlet, pay attention to whether the tab between the two outlets is removed. If the tab is broken, it may be the light switch that is bad, not the outlet. This is especially likely if your room has a light switch the "doesn't do anything".

  • Bypassing site rules because you don't have the privilege you need isn't a good idea. Meta-commentary doesn't belong in an answer. Please see How to Answer and take the tour.
    – isherwood
    Jan 21 at 15:31
  • The question states that other devices work in the lower half of the outlet. This is apparently not a switched outlet scenario.
    – isherwood
    Jan 21 at 15:31

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