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Plug Sockets Not Working? Here's Why

Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023

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If your plug sockets are not working, there is hope! While it's annoying in the short run, a plug socket not working is a relatively easily fixed issue. If you're not sure where to even start, don't worry - we have you covered.

The most common causes of plug sockets not working are faulty devices (what you're plugging in), a breaker being tripped, or a faulty socket.

Keep reading for everything you need to know to get your sockets back up and running as soon as possible.

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Plug Sockets Not Working: Why?

The most important thing you can do when a socket stops working suddenly is to remain calm. The fixes for this are often much easier than expected, and panicking just makes everything worse. So let's look at what could be causing the problem.

Getting Started



When you first start to troubleshoot, it's best to check whether the issue is isolated to one socket, or to all of them. This will tell you where to go next, and informs upon what the issue likely is. Plug in something like a lamp that you know works - does it turn on? What about when you move it to another outlet? If it turns on in a different outlet, it's a problem with that particular socket. If it doesn't turn on at all, it's a problem with them all.

Next, plug in the device(s) you had in the socket originally into one you know works (probably from testing it a moment earlier). If it doesn't turn on there, it's likely you have a problem with the device itself. Nobody wants to hear that, but if your connections in say, your Xbox, are loose - it won't work. The device could have also just reached the end of its lifespan. Not ideal, but at least you know the problem.

Finally, check your breaker. You could just have too many devices on one circuit. If the breaker is tripped, either move the devices around or invest in a power strip and surge protector. I highly recommend a surge protector for valuable things like computers, gaming consoles, and TVs as they generally come with a warranty that protects what you have plugged into them. They also will help in the case of power issues, preventing a surge from frying your devices.

Read Next: How to deal with a plug stuck in a socket.

For the Technically Savvy



If you're comfortable with wiring, open the socket in question after switching off power at the breaker . That should be obvious, but it's best to not risk someone forgetting. Now, where were we?

If you open the socket, take a look at the wiring. Is it frayed, damaged, or not connected properly? Replacing old or damaged wires and fixing poorly laid circuits could end up solving your problem - but be careful. If you're not sure how to do this, just ask for help. It's not worth damageing your home more than it already (potentially) is to save a few bucks on repairs.

Signs of a bad socket include poor current delivery (duh), an inability to keep items plugged in snugly, and the obvious one - burn marks. It also wouldn't hurt to replace old sockets, especially if they've been around for 10+ years without repairs or replacements.

Read Next: Socket height above the worktop, everything you need to know.

Half-Hot Sockets

Do any of your sockets activate and turn off via a switch? This is called a half-hot outlet. These are generally designed to allow you to plug in a lamp and control it with a switch, but it's easy to accidentally flip those switches when trying to get the one next to it. These are more common in older homes, so keep an eye out.

GFCI Sockets



These guys are designed to keep you from accidental electrocution. As you likely know, water and electricity are not very good friends - at least, not when it comes to keeping you safe. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) outlets are designed to prevent surges of electricity, especially when they detect water. These are rather common in new homes, and there's an easy way to tell if you have one.

Does the socket have little black and/or red rectangular buttons? If so, press it in and test the outlet. Oftentimes, these will switch themselves when they detect something they don't like, resulting in the socket "turning off." Pushing the button reactivates the circuit, and should theoretically solve the problem.

Safety Concerns

If you see burn marks on anything that came into contact with electricity, or repeatedly have a breaker flip, it's time to call for help. Both of these are signs of bad wiring or electrical faults that could very easily turn deadly if ignored. Breakers exist for a reason - to prevent too much electricity from going through one circuit. If they're flipping regularly, you could have a faulty socket that's a fire hazard. As for burn marks, that's rather obvious, isn't it?

Burn marks are a clear sign that you have an electrical problem somewhere . Rather than ignoring it and trying to just live your life, call an electrician. They exist for the sole purpose of helping you with electrical problems and keeping you alive and un-electrocuted. And again, consider a surge protector if you need to plug in multiple devices to the same outlet. They will help regulate power and often can even save you money on your electric bill.

Final Thoughts

If one or more of your plug sockets is not working, read through the above list. It's designed to help you pinpoint minor problems that you can fix at home, and offers some helpful advice on when to call professionals. Electricity is no joke, and it's always better to be safe than ignore a problem because you don't want to ask for help. Begin by testing your outlets and checking the breaker in your home, then check for half-socket and GFCI outlets.

If all of your outlets work normally other than a single one, it's likely that you'll need to replace some wiring or the socket itself. And if you're comfortable with that, go for it! If not - please, please, please, call a pro. They'll be able to find and fix the problem much more easily than you likely can, and it'll ensure you're not in a dangerous situation.

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