Why your electrical outlet isn’t working

We’ve all been there at some point. You go to plug in your phone charger or hair dryer and nothing happens. You know it’s not the device itself, so you wonder if it’s your electrical outlet. While we’d love it if you called us every time, we do realize that we’re not necessarily needed for every, single thing that goes wrong. And as such, there are, in fact – several safe, troubleshooting steps you can take to see if you can solve the problem yourself first.

Safety is always the most important thing to consider when it comes to electricity and as such, here are some things that you can do that will help bring the actual problem itself into a clearer focus without exposing yourself to harm.

But before we begin

We do want to take the chance to review a few worthwhile safety tips to make sure you avoid getting to this point to begin with.

-First- don’t overload electrical outlets with multiple power strips or adaptors


-Don’t place objects other than plugs that are the right size into an outlet


-And finally – make sure outlets have plates covering them and that all the wiring is inside

Do those things, and you’ll dramatically lower the likelihood of your outlet going belly-up. Also one more, handy thing to buy and keep in your toolbox – an electrical outlet tester. Sometimes they’re called socket tester– and they can basically tell you right off the bat whether your outlet is working or not. While there are some safety issues that can arise, these socket testers can help identify potential wiring errors so you get a better idea of what kind of problems you’ve got on your hands.

Now onto troubleshooting

Here are some of the things you can try to do to see if your outlet is malfunctioning.


  • Plug devices into other outlets. Sometimes, it really isn’t the outlet and instead it’s the device itself. Plug it into something else to make sure first.


  • Check surrounding outlets within that immediate room. If they’re faulty- there could be a bigger problem.


  • If you have a GFCI outlet, try pressing the reset button. If that works, then great! If it continually trips, then it’s 100% time to call an electrician.


  • Next, once you’ve identified a dysfunctional outlet, go ahead and unplug anything in that outlet and just to be safe – unplug things like desktop computers and the like. It’s a good idea just to be safe!


  • Check your circuit breaker box or look for a blown fuse. These are attached to the main electrical panel- which is located where electricity enters the house. You can identify a tripped breaker simply by seeing that a certain handle is not like the others. Fuses will look a little bit like blown light bulb, with a cloudy, burn looking residue on the inside.


  • If you do find a tripped breaker, you can reset it by pushing the handle to ‘off’ until you hear a click. Then push it back to on.


  • If the breaker trips again – don’t do anything else. Call an electrician immediately as you have a problem with your wiring or a potentially dangerous situation with a ground fault condition or short circuit. Stop using the outlet and get an electrician in your home immediately.

If you’re in the Clearwater area and you’re looking for a trusted electrician to help you with your faulty outlet, give us a call and we’ll be happy to come take a look!