[Added the breaker box location]Moved into our house 4 years ago. None of the outlets/lights that are currently not working ever worked from day 1. 4 outlets and 2 front porch lights do not work. My outlet plug checking tool has no readings from any of the outlets. They seem to be all in a line or "on the same circuit or whatever. There is a gfci immediately after one of the final outlets that does not work. I have taken it (and the wires behind it in wire nuts) apart and the connections seem quality. The gfic outlet works just fine. There are 2 more gfci outlets within "earshot" of the down outlets. They don't seem to be "in line" with the other downed plugs. I have pulled out each plug that is not working and reattached the ALUMINUM wires to the screw in attachments. They all seem like good connections. HELP! Map of the outlets

  • Is the breaker tripped? Are there other things on the circuit that work? – ThreePhaseEel May 6 '16 at 3:41
  • Breaker is not tripped. These outlets and lights have been this way for 4+ years. I personally don't know enough about electric work to know where the circuit starts and stops, but based on my understanding I don't think anything in the circuit works. ? – Josh May 6 '16 at 3:50
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    The fact that it's AL wire and you've stated you know little about electric work likely makes this a job for a professional. Extra considerations need to be taken to prevent fire because it's aluminum wire. Likely what's happened is a connection that wasn't made properly has burned open. – Tyson May 6 '16 at 12:54
  • Ok. If the fix is expensive, I really don't have the $ to pay for it. I'd really hoped to be able to learn by doing. (With the power off :) – Josh May 6 '16 at 21:46
  • The problem is not when the power is off. The problem with AL wiring is that the problem will show up in X number of months in the form of a fire. That might be small and contained to a junction box, or large and burn the house down. There is one answer that gives you a clue... His wiring started 3 fires, yet he encourages you to proceed. FWIW I talked to a friend that's a licensed master electrician today and he indicated he wouldn't send most of employees on service call involving AL wire on a residential branch circuit, either he himself or 2 of his most senior electricians. – Tyson May 7 '16 at 1:49

If no breaker is tripped and all gfci outlets are ok, then it is likely that these outlets and fixtures are fed from another outlet or fixture and the connection there is problematic.

It sounds as if you have little experience with wiring, and aluminum wiring poses a special set of issues. Connections between aluminum wiring and copper based devices often are problematic unless special techniques are used to ensure good permanent connections.

This sounds like a project for a professional electrician to trace the break in the circuit and ensure that all aluminum connections are sound and safe.


Aluminum wire is horrible I agree. One the first 3 houses I wired after getting my license in the 70's had a fire in the wall less than a year later. The special knowledge others are referring to is bunk. All it takes is a little de-ox or noalox oxide inhibitor on the connections. I only use aluminum for feeders or services now and very rarely. Since you have aluminum lets try and help you find the problem. You checked all the dead outlets so we can believe they are good, now go back to the first working from your drawing top left GFCI Or middle right. (I would pick the one closest to the breaker box because that is the normal feed direction). With the power off pull that one many times the failure is from a broken feed from a working outlet (if not that one try the other). I cannot read the note in the middle. With more information maybe we can give you another thing to try but this is where I find many problems with dead outlets copper or aluminum. A small bottle of oxide inhibitor would be a good investment only a few dollars. Any time you make a connection with a wire nut or screw terminal put a drop of inhibitor on the wire just enough to coat the wire. never use the "stab" or push in connectors with aluminum and use outlets that are rated CU/AL many outlets are only listed for copper.

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    I was going to make a suggestion like this, but I would also map out your breaker box. Make a drawing and label all lights and outlets with a breaker. If there is a breaker that only has 1-2 devices on it and the other breakers have 6-7, then chances are the broken connection is going from one of those 1-2 devices to the rest of the non-working outlets. If there is a breaker that doesn't do anything, you have something else to focus on. – JPhi1618 May 6 '16 at 13:36
  • The scribbled notes in the middle say, "2 switches, 1 works, one does nothing" (should be the switch for the front porch light fixtures). And, "hanging light fixture here works". I am going now to power down and pull the outlet(s) you said to pull. – Josh May 6 '16 at 21:59
  • @Ed Beal, I added a picture showing where the Breaker box is and circles in red the two outlets I just pulled. I pulled the GFCI in the bathroom which seemed to possibly be upstream from the bad outlets. I also pulled the first working outlet on the right side of the house (in the same bedroom with the "first" non-working outlet. Both seemed like ok connections. I made sure they were connected well before turning power back on. No change in the bad outlets. – Josh May 6 '16 at 22:46
  • Maybe I should have said this before but a kid I know who apprenticed with an electrician for a while said he thought the problem might be where the one switch doesn't work for the front porch lights (the spot that the arrow with the scribbling you couldn't read points to). – Josh May 6 '16 at 22:49
  • House built in 1968 – Josh May 6 '16 at 22:50

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