Reviving Your Home’s Dead Outlets: Troubleshooting and Solutions

dead outlet

A dead outlet could be a simple fix or a sign of a major electrical wiring problem in your home.  Fortunately, it’s usually an easier fix than you think and one you can do without help.

The following guide will explain the causes of dead outlets and troubleshooting tips to regain power output. It will also explain when to call electrician services and why fixing the problem is important.

Read on to learn how to revive a dead outlet and solve this common home electrical problem.

Understanding the Flow of Electricity

It’s important to understand the flow of electricity in your home before reviving an outlet. Think of the electrical system in your home as a grid of highways and the breaker box as the control station.

The breaker box sends electricity through circuits to specific areas of your home. Each circuit gives power to outlets that act as exits along the highway. So, a dead outlet could be a problem with the individual outlet or an issue upstream on the circuit.

Finding the Cause of a Dead Outlet

It’s important to search for the root cause of a dead outlet before starting work. Tripped breakers in the breaker box are the most common causes of dead outlets. Breakers act as safety switches that cut off power if a circuit gets overloaded.

It’s normal for GFCI breakers and outlets to need a reset sometimes. You’ll usually find Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets in bathrooms and kitchens. They have a simple reset button that trips in case of a ground fault to help prevent an electrical shock.

Loose wire connections are another common cause of dead outlets. Vibrations or an improper installation can force wires to loosen at the terminal screws inside the outlet box over time. A loose connection upsets the flow of electricity to the outlet.

Faulty outlets and wiring are other issues to look for. Outlets can wear out or malfunction because of age, damage, or overheating.
Damaged or faulty wiring within the walls can be a more complex problem for a skilled electrician to help with.

Taking Safety Precautions

Make sure to prioritize safety first before starting any electrical work on your home. Always start by locating your breaker box and turning off the power.

Find the breaker that controls the circuit connected to the dead outlet. Flip the breaker switch to its “Off” position and confirm the power is off by using a voltage tester on the outlet. You can find affordable voltage testers online and in most hardware stores.

As far as tools go, you’ll need a flat-head screwdriver to remove the faceplate of the outlet. Also, keep that voltage tester nearby for additional checks while you work.

Fixing a Dead Outlet

First, go to your breaker box and look for a tripped breaker. A tripped breaker sits in the middle position between the “On” and “Off” positions. Turn the breaker completely to the “Off” position and then turn it firmly to the “On” position.

If the breaker immediately trips again at this step, it’s likely because of a more severe issue on the circuit. It’s best to call an electrician for help at this point.

If it’s a GFCI outlet, firmly press the reset button into place. It should make a click sound and the outlet should start working again if that’s the only problem. 

You can try testing other outlets on the same circuit if the first two steps don’t work. Plug a phone charger, lamp, or any other working electrical device into nearby outlets. Doing so lets you know if the problem is isolated to only the dead outlet.

You can carefully inspect the outlet box if your problem isn’t fixed at this point. Turn off the power and remove the outlet’s faceplate to look for loose wires or scorching on the outlet.

Gently pull on the wires to make sure they’re connected to the terminal screws. Tighten any loose screws with your screwdriver and remember to never touch any bare wires even if the power is off.

You can try replacing the outlet box with a new one if you find any burning or damage during your inspection. However, it’s best to call an electrician if you find burning around the outlet or frayed wires in the wall.

The Importance of Fixing Dead Outlets

Dead outlets might mean that you have loose wires or faulty wiring that can overheat and spark. So, a dead outlet might pose a fire risk for your home. Also, a faulty GFCI outlet may not protect you from getting shocked in the event of a ground fault.

One dead outlet might be the first indication of a circuit that’s overloaded. It can cause lights to flicker, breakers to trip, and even damage your appliances. Fixing a dead outlet right away can help ensure a smooth flow of electricity and prevent these issues.

Dead outlets are also a major inconvenience in today’s world. It can upend your daily routine by restricting phone charging, powering basic electronics, and slowing down your productivity.

It’s also important to consider property value when you find a dead outlet. If a home inspector finds dead outlets when you go to sell your home, it might delay the process or ruin the sale.

Preventing Future Issues

Try not to plug too many appliances into a single outlet and don’t use extension cords as a long-term solution.
Unplug any electronics you’re not using because they continue to draw a small amount of power even when turned off.

Set up regular electrical inspections each year to take the most precautions. A skilled electrician can pinpoint potential issues before they cause an outlet failure or a fire in your home.

Reviving a Dead Outlet

Now you know how to find the cause of a dead outlet, what you can do to fix it, and when to call a professional. Remember that what might seem like a minor issue could be a sign of a bigger, more dangerous electrical problem.

You can contact us at Parkin Electric if you have an electrical problem and to learn about our services. Our family of dedicated employees has proudly served Oregon City, Oregon, and its surrounding areas since 1945.

Look To The Experts

Get in touch with us today for more information, and to schedule an appointment.


Take a look at what our clients have to say about our services.

B. Rhoads

Randa demonstrates the height of professionalism and perfectionism. Her attention to detail and response to my fire worries was exceptional finding a breaker that needed replacement as well as something outside that could be a potential hazard. Please share.

N. Schaefle

We Thank you for the work that was done to get power to our garage/shop area and wanted you to know that it was a pleasure to work with Mike.  He was considerate and easy to have here… he did his job carefully and cleaned up where he worked.. He certainly is competent!

D. Peterson

Just wanted to let you know Ben was great. He was professional and personable and helpful with showing us how things worked. I can't remember the name of the other guy (Cristian) but he was great too and they did a great job and cleaned up the area where the generator is. And of course we were so impressed with Tammy and appreciated her help, with our somewhat drawn out process. Very impressed with the service at Parkin.

David D.

Worth every penny, Parkin is the best! 

D. Kost

We were impressed by Dave B’s service and professionalism… I am sure he is not unique to the other techs and employees at Parkin.  We are very satisfied with how we were treated from the point of making an appointment through all of the service.  There is no doubt we will be returning customers for future needs, as well as highly recommending Parkin Electric to everyone we know. 

S. Wilson

I found Brian and Steve to very professional and very skilled electricians.  (Generator Install)

Jeanine K.

Thank you for the great service and responsibility to detail.  I greatly appreciate all the work & customer service that your company gave us.  Kudos to Amanda, Tonya & Chad they are truly an asset to your company.  Our mini split works great &  our inspection passed with flying colors.