So you think your house is going to burn down because a receptacle isn't working? I know ...I know electricity can be a very scary thing to have to deal with. Because so many people don't understand how it works, or what to look for when things do stop working.
I do want to be clear here...yes there could be a possibility of a fire happening if a plug or parts of the electrical system stop working. The chance of it happening is slim but it is real. You see an electrical fire typically is started because of a loose connection. Basically what happens is a connection that is joining 2 or more wires together will separate slightly. When this happens arching and sparking can be a result. If there is something that is close enough to catch fire from the heat being produced you can expect to have problems.
Now again the chance of something like this happening are small...but it does happen. OK so what should you do first if you notice that something has stopped working in your home?
1) Make a note of what is being used when you notice the problem...do you have any high energy drawing appliances plugged in that are not working any longer. Some examples of these are portable heaters (probably the biggest cause of many problems) hair dryers, toasters, basically anything with a heating element on it.
2) You'll want to be sure that you didn't blow a fuse or pop a breaker. To check on this you'll want to find were ever your breaker or fuse box is located at. Typically this is in the basement or storage area. Open the door, if you have round glass fuses check to make sure that there isn't a black spot in the center of any of them. If there is then you have a blown fuse, unscrew it and replace it WITH THE SAME SIZE FUSE. If you have breakers then check to see that all of the handles are tight. When I say tight I mean that ere isn't any play at all in the breakers. If you have a popped breaker then that one handle will certainly be much looser than the rest. Turn the breaker all the way off and then back on. It should click and stay in place. If it doesn't then you probably have another hidden problem and it is probably best to call in a pro. When you screw in the glass fuse same thing if you screw it in and it flashes or you see it turn black inside then you know there is another hidden problem
3) If you have done the other two things and everything is fine so far you might have a tripped GFI. The receptacles that are not working where are they located at? Are they in the bath room, kitchen, and basement or outside? If they are then chances are you might have a tripped GFI. Have a look around your home, a GFI can feed other downstream receptacles and cause them not to work. A GFI is a plug that has 2 buttons on it. A test and reset button. If you find a GFI press the test button. If it pops then you know that one was set before. Press the reset button again and it should click and hold that button in again. If it doesn't one of two things could be wrong. The GFI might have gone bad, or there isn't any power at that plug. In either case if you are not familiar with fixing electrical problems then you will want to call in a pro at this point.
What you have done up to this point will be very valuable information for your service man. This will save him time and will save you money.
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