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I have a room that has six outlets. Two of which are healthy with ground and ~120V coming through. The other four report open ground with one of the four not working at all (no juice). I've checked the voltage and the ground receptacles in the four don't respond at all (as in testing it with the Hot receptacle).

All outlets had ground at one point with two lost from a power outage a while back. The two I lost recently were from a safety practice that required me to power down the surge protectors, cutting power to the electronics connected to them.

Upon repowering them, the lights went out, but the breaker did not trip. A voltage test (eep!) at the breaker showed that the breaker (15A) was fine (pumping ~120v through). I should note that the outlets have two surge protectors connected with a variety of electronic devices connected including a PC, surround sound and a Dyson heater.

My current problem is that resetting the breaker did not restore power back to that room, and my only suspicion that its from the open ground outlets, but turning on more than one light outside the room can "trip" the circuit. What do I do?

  • How big is the heater? It's easy to overload a 15 amp circuit with electric heater + other stuff. Any chance you also have aluminum wire? Look here for some insight. diy.stackexchange.com/questions/58908/… – Ecnerwal Mar 1 '15 at 2:55
  • Its a Dyson Hot+Cool Fan, I believe its 1500-2000 watts. And no, I do not have any aluminum wiring. – Kevin K H Chan Mar 1 '15 at 4:32
  • Right, so that needs a 15 amp circuit pretty much all to itself... – Ecnerwal Mar 1 '15 at 4:36
  • Wow. That's good to know, I've always thought heaters were power hogs, but not to that extent. I also have a 1000 watt surround sound and a ~800 watt PC connected on the same surge protector, along with some peripherals like printers and external hard drives; any concerns I should be aware of? – Kevin K H Chan Mar 1 '15 at 19:31
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If you have power at the breaker, and no power at the room then you have a bad connection somewhere in between. Time to start tracing wires and opening up junction boxes and outlets to check connections - or to hire an electrician to do that for you. There really isn't a "simple, quick" way to do this.

You may find a somewhat overheated looking connection along the way, or more than one, or you may find an actual broken wire, or you may find a wire that is has power on one end but not on the other, and thus broken (or chewed through, or nailed/screwed through) in the wall; though you should always check to see if you might have missed a junction box in that instance.

  • Where might these junction boxes be located (or where they're commonly located at). The affected room is in a finished basement. – Kevin K H Chan Mar 1 '15 at 19:28
  • Another question: I noticed that the circuit also includes 6 potlights and 1 corridor light (excluding the light and its outlets in the affected room), is it possible that the junction box be in one of them and that they're the ones affecting the circuit? I ask this because any more than one light turned simultaneously will trip the circuit. – Kevin K H Chan Mar 1 '15 at 19:41
  • Yes, many (even most) junctions are in boxes associated with other devices, rather than a junction box serving no other purpose. If done in compliance with code, all junctions are supposed to be accessible (ie, you should not have to rip the walls open to find them.) If the outlets in the room are not getting power (which appears to be what you said) AND more than one light trips the circuit, something else must also be using a great deal of power. – Ecnerwal Mar 1 '15 at 20:15
  • After searching all the outlets, I found a melted outlet: the plastic shell was melted, the hot and neutral are partially melted but still attached to the outlet, the ground (surprisingly) looked visually unharmed. There is enough for me to strip and reattach. I also discovered an unused outlet that the renovators installed, it was broken as the receptacles had a malformed hot slot (cheap asses). Didn't bother me much but now that I know... Would that be my culprit? The ground was still intact though. – Kevin K H Chan Mar 4 '15 at 4:58
  • Update: I successfully changed the melted outlet with a new one, after I checked the integrity of the wires, of course. Still reporting open ground. I'm going to open the one outlet in the room that still has ground and see what I get. – Kevin K H Chan Mar 5 '15 at 5:52

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