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Top Outlet Not Working But Bottom Is? (Reasons & Solutions)

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When the top outlet stops working while the bottom outlet is working, this can limit the appliances and devices you usually plug into the room’s outlet.

And may even, at times, result in overloading the bottom outlet. Yet, there must be reasons for this occurrence and solutions that can fix the issue.

Considering this outlet-related issue, we will highlight why there is a working outlet bottom whereas the top does not.

The step-by-step way of fixing the top outlet and whether or not a bad outlet can stop other outlets from working. All these and more you will come to know if you give your undivided attention.

A top outlet may stop working even when the bottom is still working for so many reasons. But, there are four main reasons why this happens and a few steps you can take to fix it. All you need is a few tools from an electrician toolbox and a new outlet where replacement is needed.

Why Does the Bottom Outlet Work but Not the Top?

Top Outlet Not Working But Bottom Is? (Reasons & Solutions)

The issue of the bottom outlet working while the top outlet fails to work can result from various reasons.

And these reasons range from a blown-up fuse, a tripped circuit breaker, halt-hot outlet, GFCI outlet, faulty outlets, burned-out outlet, or loose connecting wires.

#1. Blown Up Fuse

To identify if this is the fault, go to your fuse box and open it up and then check to confirm if there is any melted metal piece or discolored glass.

If this is the case, you have a blown-up fuse box. Then, you have to unscrew the broken fuse and replace it with a new and similar one.

#2. Tripped Circuit Breaker

The point responsible for the control of electricity that runs to every room in your house is the circuit breaker.

As a way of preventing overheating and possible damage, it is normal for your breaker to trip off when the electrical current flowing through becomes too much.

The good thing with this problem is your outlet is safe. It would help if you went to the circuit, and the tripped breaker will be between the on and off positions.

So all you need to do is to move it to the off position, then back to the on position, and everything will be as good as new.

#3. Half-hot Outlet

In a half-hot outlet, fixing seems to be very easy compared to the others. Here the outlet has a lower plug that the wall switch can control.

So if there is a half-hot outlet and switch in your room, you can activate the outlet just by flipping the light switch.

#4. Tripped GFCI Outlet

To curb possible electrocution in the house, the ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) mainly serve where there is water, like in the kitchen or bathroom.

The GFCI outlet has a test and resets button between the two plugs.

But in situations where the circuit breaker may not have tripped, in such a situation, press the reset button of your GFCI outlet.

#5. Faulty Outlet

There are situations where the outlet may be faulty. It would be best if you cut off power from the breaker before replacing it to fix it.

It would be best if you did this as the last resort when every other thing has failed to work.

#6. Burned Out Outlet

When the electrical current becomes too strong, it creates small fires that burn your outlets and stops them from working.

You can identify a burned-out outlet by the black sign on it. If this occurs, do not delay changing the entire outlet and replace it with a new one.

#7. Loose Wires

Remove the outlet’s front plate to check if it is a loose wire case. Then pull the outlet away from the wall and check whether there is any loose wire. If there are loose wires, tighten them firmly with a screw.

If you lack electrical knowledge, invite a professional electrician to handle the issue. Doing so will protect lives and property rather than put them at risk by doing them yourself.

Top Reasons Top Outlet Not Working But Bottom Are

Here are the top reasons:

#1. Backstabbing Wiring

Backstabbing wiring is the wrong approach when wiring a plug or switch. You do this by pushing the wire into the connector that is supposed to hold the wire.

Meanwhile, to do it the right way, you must curl the wire around the screw before tightening.

Backstabbing results in weak connection, and although you can check it on your own, call a professional if it needs fixing.

Checking is possible by removing the outlet plate and receptacle from the outlet box. Then you can see if the connection of your top outlet is proper or whether it’s a backstab.

#2. Wrong Metal Wires

The main types of metal for wires are Copper and aluminum. Copper is the best and primarily used, while aluminum has high electrical resistance and is brittle.

So if the top outlet has high resistance, it will only help heat build-up and burn up the wire.

#3. Switched Plugs

The problem here will be the existence of a switched outlet. Since it is a switched (half-hot) outlet, it uses two outlets and has one plug that is permanently on and with complete control from the wall switch.

Meanwhile, this switch outlet is standard in modern buildings and available in most living rooms and bedrooms that use pluggable lamps.

#4. Wrongly Used Wire Nuts

Wire nuts primarily play the role of binding and covering wires, but you can also use them to make connections between wires. So if you misuse it, you can cause your top outlet to malfunction.

Step by Step: How to Fix When Top Outlet Is Not Working, But Bottom Is?

When the top outlet is not working, it is best to replace it with a new one. The following steps will help you replace both the top and bottom outlets;

#1. Step 1

You must first go to the breaker and turn off the power for the room before you begin working on the outlet.

Next, you should unscrew and remove the outlet plate from the wall and then the outlet box also from the wall.

#2. Step 2

Unscrew and remove wires from the wall. If the wires are okay and only the outlet is the issue, cut off the exposed wire and replace it with a fresh or new wire. You get or expose this new wire by removing a bit of insulation from your wire.

#3. Step 3

Next, you should put your new wires back into the hole screw. Pull the wire out a little to ensure it is firmly secure.

#4. Step 4

Now would be the best time to screw the outlet back into the wall. And then screw the plastic plate on the box outlet.

#5. Step 5

Go straight to the circuit breaker and switch the power back on for room with the outlet you have finished working.

Then get a voltage tester tool from here and test; the outlet should have a standard voltage of 120.

Can a Bad Outlet Make Other Outlets Not Work?

Generally, there are three reasons one bad outlet can affect or make other outlets stop working.

The table below highlights these three reasons and the solutions that can help.

S/NReasons Solutions 
1Loose connectionIt will be best to replace the outlet with an entirely new one. But, do not replace it by yourself if it’s an aluminum wire (gray color), it would be preferable to call a professional electrician. Nevertheless, you can go ahead if it’s a copper wire (orange color).
2Tripped GFCITo address the issue, you have to press the test and reset button for every GFCI in your house. If resetting fails, it could be one of two issues: poor connection or insufficient power. Therefore, I will advise you not to attempt to fix it but call a professional.
3Tripped circuit breakerFixing this is very simple; you must go to the circuit breaker and flip it back to the “on” position. But if you hear a buzzing or crackling sound, there is a loose wire in the panel, which is why you should call a professional.


From this article, there are many reasons why your top outlet is not working when there is a working outlet bottom, although there are four top reasons.

This article lets you know the five steps you can take to fix your top outlet. Finally, you can now tell the reasons and solutions for when an outlet causes other outlets to stop working.

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