Half of our basement outlets went out, and flipping the switch at the circuit breaker (multiple times) did not work. The affected rooms are fully underground and the likelihood of moisture is high. There is no GFCI outlet on this circuit (the basement was wired by a handyman who did not have it professionally inspected/certified/whatever).

How do we fix this? Obviously we need to install a GFCI outlet, but what will get the electricity back on in the meantime? I'm a clueless housewife, so please go easy on me.

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    Does the breaker you are trying to reset turn on and off the other half of the lights (the ones that did not fail)? We need to know if there is more than one circuit and/or breaker, or if the breaker you are manipulating controls one and only one circuit. Dec 6, 2015 at 3:12
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    It's not obvious to me why you'd need a GFCI outlet. Please elaborate.
    – isherwood
    Dec 6, 2015 at 3:27

1 Answer 1


If the entire circuit is on one breaker, the problem is not likely to be at the panel. I can imagine two possibilities:

  1. A connection at an outlet is loose and failing. Take a guess at which outlet is the last working one upstream of the problem. With the breaker switched off, open the box and check the connections.

  2. Damage to the wiring has occurred due to rodents, impact, corrosion, etc. This might be more difficult to diagnose if the walls are finished. You might use continuity testing to check the individual conductors. Again, switch off the breaker first.

A third less likely possibility is that there are two "home runs" connected at the breaker, and one has come loose. If that was the case, however, you'd probably see intermittent failure of the rest of the circuit as well.

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