How to Find a Defective Electrical Receptacle

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Outlets can be tested to see if they are defective.

Receptacles or electrical outlets in your home provide power for various devices, such as lights and appliances. On rare occasions a receptacle can go bad because it is defective. When a receptacle is defective it will not provide power. Sometimes this can resemble other power issues, such as a tripped circuit. To find if a receptacle is defective you will need to perform a series of tests.


Step 1

Verify that a breaker has not tripped or a fuse has blown for the room by checking the circuit panel. Go back and see if the outlet is now working.

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Step 2

Check to see if a switch is used to control an outlet. If a switch is wired to an outlet it needs to be on for the outlet to work.


Step 3

Plug a lamp into the outlet and then turn on the switch. If the light does not come on the switch may be bad or defective.

Step 4

Insert a voltage plug tester into the outlet. Cross reference the lights with the sticker diagram that is on the device to see if power is present or if the outlet is wired incorrectly.


Step 5

Check to see if the outlet is a ground fault interrupt circuit. A ground fault outlet may be identified by a red and black button in the middle of the switch.

Step 6

Press the red button to see if a green light comes on. If no light comes on then the outlet is either bad or defective.


Electrical wires for an outlet are live unless the power is turned off.


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