If you notice an electrical outlet not working, but the breaker is not tripped, you're probably puzzled! Unfortunately, there may not be a lot homeowners can do to fix the problem, but it's worth understanding some of the most common causes so you can plan repairs accordingly.

What Causes an Outlet to Stop Working Without Tripping the Breaker?

There are a few likely reasons outlets stop working suddenly. A properly installed outlet in good working condition will often fail during a short circuit or power surge. In this scenario, it will trip the circuit breaker and sever the electrical connection. This is a relatively easy fix; it usually takes a few minutes to reset.

If the breaker hasn't tripped, you're most likely dealing with a bigger challenge – and a more in-depth fix!

  • GFCI outlet – Depending on the outlet, loss of power might actually show it’s working! Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are designed to immediately cut off the flow of electricity whenever a change in current is detected. See if it's a GFCI outlet and try resetting it to resolve the issue.
  • Loose wiring – Loose connections can cause outlets to fail. This is usually the result of improper installation or repair, which poses serious safety risks in its own right. Loose wires are one of the most common causes of faulty outlets, and it's one of the first things your local Mister Sparky electrician examines during a rewiring inspection.
  • Damaged breaker – Even if the circuits aren't tripped, the breaker could still be the problem. Check to see if any other outlets connected to the same circuit are working; if not, there's a good chance the root of the problem is in the circuit panel, not the outlets.

Remember, if you notice burn marks, signs of melted plastic, or other physical damage at the outlet or breaker, contact your local Mister Sparky electrician right away.

Read more: Can You Do It Yourself or Should You Call the Electrician?

How We Assess Non-Functioning Outlets

Mister Sparky electricians are trained, certified, and have the tools to investigate outlets safely. We start behind the outlet face plate to check for loose wiring and loose outlets.

Loose outlets are more common than you might think. As we plug and unplug devices repeatedly, the outlet box can come loose, disrupting connections and causing loose wires or even wearing away the rubber coating on wires. Depending on the extent of the damage, repairs can be as simple as tightening a few screws or requiring complete outlet replacement.

We'll also test for circuit overload. Multiple devices using the same circuit can put too much demand on a specific circuit and cause it to trip. If the breaker doesn't trip, the overloaded circuit may have already sustained damage in the wiring or at the panel connection. In either case, only a professional electrician will be able to determine the cause and make the appropriate repairs.

Let Mister Sparky Investigate Bad Outlets

It's always smart to play it safe when it comes to electricity. Call the professionals if a non-GFCI outlet stopped working and the breaker isn't tripped. You can always count on the friendly, professional electricians at Mister Sparky. We'll show up on time, explain the problem, make clear recommendations, and start work only with your approval. Find a Mister Sparky location near you or call (866) 378-5637 today.