One of the most frustrating parts of being a homeowner has to be when things are not going right with a major system in the house.
Whether you are talking, HVAC, water, drain, or electrical, they all can be equally upsetting when something goes wrong. For this article, we will be focussing on the electrical outlets in your house.
When it comes to troubleshooting any part of the electrical system in your home you need to identify where the main electrical panel is in your home.
Once you have found where the panel is you start to determine where the problem is.
When you have multiple electrical outlets not working in the house, chances are pretty good that they are all part of the same circuit.
As part of our research for this article, we came up with several possible causes for this and an easy self fix for them.
By doing these simple checks you might be able to save yourself some money by not having to call a professional electrician.
4 Common causes for multiple electrical outlets not working in your home and how to fix them
The main breaker is tripped inside the breaker panel
One important thing to realize that not all homes are wired electrically the same.
While all residential structures in a given municipality must adhere to a specific set of building codes, but that does not guaranty that all electrical contractors are going to wire the house exactly the same.
This knowledge can be very valuable to you when it comes to troubleshooting your houses electrical outlets.
The first thing that you want to do when you discover that multiple outlets usually all in the same room is to check your main breaker panel for your house.
Chances are that the breaker that is designated to hand the circuit is tripped or off.
Since there is no real wiring standard you will likely find a label corresponding to the breaker next it.
So, the best way to handle is to look down both sides of the breaker panel to see if any breakers are in the tripped (the handle is in the middle of the breaker) position.
Once you find a tripped breaker look at the label to see if it corresponds with the part of the house that you are having trouble.
If it is, grab the handle and flip it all the way off and then back on. Go back to the area and test the outlets.
The GFCI breaker is tripped
A ground fault circuit interrupter outlet is something that is relatively new to some residential building codes.
These special outlets are designed to be used in areas that present an extremely high likelihood of being a shock hazard.
This is why you will likely find this type of outlet in an area that is in close proximity to a source of water; kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and or an exterior wall.
Due to how the GFCI outlet works if a serious enough electrical short circuit condition exists in the circuit the internal breaker will trip and instantly cut off the electrical current from flowing throughout the circuit.
The primary reason that this can cause a problem is that when the electrical system is being planned for the house these GFCI outlets are commonly connected in a circuit along with non-GFCI outlets and it may not be obvious at first glance.
Fortunately, if you know that there are one or more of these GFCI outlets in the group of electrical outlets that are seemingly dead you check the GFCI outlets for a tripped breaker indicator.
If one or more of them are tripped all you will have to do is push the reset button below the tripped indicator and the power should be restored to all of the outlets at the same time.
Blown fuse in power panel (older home)
Most modern homes these days all have circuit breakers located in the main power panel according to building code.
However, it is still possible that you might come across a much older home that still could have an old fashioned electrical panel that just might contain fuses instead of breakers.
Unlike a circuit breaker that you can simply reset in order to restore the power to the circuit, a blown fuse must actually be replaced with a brand new fuse of similar type and amperage.
Just like a circuit breaker in a power panel, if there is an overcurrent or direct short condition the filament will burn or break cutting off the power flow to the circuit.
The fuse will be marked inside the power panel and by looking for one of the fuses in the panel to show signs of burning or broken filament with any of the fuses.
If you find that you have a burnt or blown fuse you simply unscrew the bad fuse and replace it with one of the spare fuses of the same type and amperage.
Then you can go test of the outlets on the circuit.
Damaged electrical outlet
It can be a bit challenging when it comes to troubleshooting any household electrical problems, especially if it involves multiple electrical outlets not working.
However, if you have already determined that it is not a power source issue, then you can start looking at the outlet themselves.
There are a couple of things to look for with the electrical outlet (receptacle) that can lead to its inoperability.
If you suspect that any of the connectors on the outlet are loose or broken, this can lead to the outlet to no longer work properly and cause other issues on the circuit.
It is important that you replace any suspected bad receptacles since they cannot be repaired.
To check it, turn the breaker off inside the main breaker panel for the house that feeds the specific circuit.
Remove the screw that is holding the cover in place and remove the two screws that are holding the outlet in place.
First, check all of the connections for tightness and if everything is tight.
Simply replace the outlet with the new one and close everything up and test the circuit.