Why does my outlet not work?

I recently purchased a house and during the home inspection the inspector suggested swapping out some of the outlets for GFCI’s instead of the standard outlets that were in there currently. Being naive I was like well I can do this myself (guess what I couldn’t) I found the correct breaker for the outlets I was working on, turned it off and proceeded to remove the face plate along with the screws to the outlet and then the screws attaching the wires to the outlet. There are 5 wires in total; two hot, two neutral and a ground (none of which were labeled other than the black and white coating on the wires). When I attached them to the GFCI I had no power and I don’t have a multimeter (yet) to test to know if I’m actually getting any juice once I turn the breaker back on but I know that the outlet worked prior to me attempting to swap them out. So I put the old outlet back on put it all back together and I still have nothing... I have tried every single combination of wiring the outlet back together and I still have nothing. In the back of the box you can see where the wires come from and nothing is broken. I know first steps should be to test them with a multimeter and I will do that once I get one but I was hoping maybe someone had some suggestions as to what I could be doing wrong? 

Thanks in Advance!! 

5 Answers

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  • 3 weeks ago

    The obvious thing is to verify you got all the connects back tightly connected, hots to one side (gold screw, short slot), whites to the opposite side, then verify that the breaker handle is being fully pressed off before on, and that it feels/looks like the breaker is fully seated and aligned with the other breakers.

    Then the inobvious concern. It is possible that the location the inspector recommended changing is actually protected by the feed wires coming from the LOAD terminals of another GFCI, and when you installed the new GFCI tripped the upstream GFCI by reversing a connection or when you pushed the receptacle into the box the bare ground came in contact with a silver screw or nicked insulation of a white wire. I have seen a tiny cut in the white insulation back where the outer jacket was cut, the initial install didn't make contact with the ground, but it did after later modification.

    A failed or loose connection at the breaker is also possible, but I won't recommend unqualified people trying to solve those issues.

  • 3 weeks ago

    multimeter is under $10 at Harbor Freight or Northern Tools -- sometimes even free with coupon and another purchase !

  • 3 weeks ago

    What you did wrong is not getting a competent electrician to do the job.

  • 3 weeks ago

    Believe it or not, there are a number of easy DIY means by which a homeowner can solve the mystery of an electrical outlet that's not working.

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  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Yes I am sure of it.

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