I replaced a receptacle, and made sure the wires were in the same order they were originally in when I hooked them back up. I turned power back on and there was no power to the receptacle I changed, or to three other receptacles. None of my breakers were tripped. I reset all of the circuit breakers just to make sure, and I still have no power in the affected receptacles.

Can you think of what could be the problem?

  • Can you provide a picture of the wiring in the receptacle you changed? Jun 21, 2015 at 20:14
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    And since you mentioned the kitchen, was this a GFCI receptacle? If so, power from the panel needs to be connected to the LINE terminals on the receptacle, and I'm betting the other three receptacles are protected by the GFCI and need to be connected to the LOAD terminals. The LINE and LOAD terminals will be labeled, and they won't necessarily be on the same sides on the replacement receptacle as on the old one. Jun 21, 2015 at 20:17
  • Don't know how to get you a picture or I would. There are two black and two white and the ground. Was not a gfci Jun 21, 2015 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


My guess is that when you pulled on the wires to get to them, the hot (red or black) wire feeding the circuit came loose. They should be pig-tied inside the j-box. Turn off the breaker for that circuit, pull apart the wires and make sure they're all secure. FWIW, the hot goes to the small side of the outlet and the neutral to the wide side (green or bare goes to the ground prong if the outlet has a ground).

  • Agreed that wires should be pig-tailed in the box instead of feeding through the receptacle itself. Jun 21, 2015 at 20:59

I'm picking this up from our comments. So this isn't a GFCI. Although if it's in the kitchen, and isn't protected by an upstream GFCI receptacle, and isn't protected by a GFCI circuit breaker in the panel, maybe it should be a GFCI.

Did the old receptacle work at all before you removed it, or had it stopped working completely?

Was the hot-side (darker colored terminals) tab removed on the old receptacle (or were both removed)? I suspect not, since your breakers aren't tripping, but worth noting anyway.

Tab removed Tab intact

One black/white pair in that outlet box is (99.999% certainty) going to be power coming into the box, and the other pair will be power feeding the other outlets that went dead when the new receptacle was installed.

If the tab(s) on the new receptacle are removed, then power can't feed through to the downstream receptacles.

Personally, I would "pigtail" the black, white and ground wires in the box so they feed straight through to the other boxes without going through the receptacle, then you only have to connect one each of the black, white and grounding wires to the new receptacle.


  • Just to add to what @Craig said, if your outlets are not pigtailed, then all the upstream outlets are carrying the current from all the downstream outlets (upstream being the source). This is not so much an issue for a 15 amp circuit, but for a 20 amp circuit this means the last 15-amp upstream outlet could carry as much as 25 amps.
    – BillDOe
    Jun 21, 2015 at 21:03
  • @Tester101 My preference for pigtailing the wires is mainly just fewer wires to horse around on the receptacle itself, slightly less chance of mechanical failure if somebody uses the stab-in connectors (which they shouldn't be doing with #12 wire on a 20A circuit anyway), and modestly less confusion about what gets hooked up to what if work ever needs to be done. Jun 21, 2015 at 21:52
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    Craig The top half of receptacle was working the bottom was cracked and wouldn't always work that's it why I changed it, if its not next to the sink should it still be a GFCI? Does it matter if the wires attached through the back or on the side with the screws? Jun 21, 2015 at 22:37
  • @Tester101, circuit breakers trip at 125% of their rated current, not 100%. NEC sizing rules. Secs. 210-22(c), 220-3(a), 220-10(b), and 384-16(c) all relate to the sizing rules for overcurrent protective devices (OCPDs). The first three all specify the same requirement: OCPD size = 100% of noncontinuous load + 125% of continuous load.
    – BillDOe
    Jun 21, 2015 at 22:38
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    @Craig, thank you for your help. I was getting a little glazy eyed☺ Jun 22, 2015 at 2:53

I'm gonna go with tripped GFI somewhere you're not aware of.

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    This is a definite possibility, since some models of GFCI need to be reset if the circuit loses power.
    – Tester101
    Jul 1, 2015 at 14:04

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