How to Fix Powerless Fixtures and Appliances

Loose Switches, Overloaded Breakers, Blown Fuses, and Other Causes

Energy efficient washing machine and dryer laundry room
Hero Images / Getty Images

Dead appliances or fixtures can be symptomatic of a variety of problems. Here’s a quick look at the potential cause of your power lapses.

Loose Switches

Bumps and small vibrations can cause interruptions in a loose switch and cut the power to your appliance or fixture. Tightening your on-off switch will help you eliminate power failures. Many power switches have tightening nuts at their base. Turn the nut to tamp down the switch. Call a pro if you don’t see a nut.

Tripped Breakers

Overloaded breakers will cut power to any fixtures or appliances on the offending circuit. Check your breaker box if parts of your home unexpectedly lose power. Here’s how to reset a tripped breaker:

  • Step 1: Identify your tripped breaker. Open your breaker box door and look for the breaker in the off position. Most breakers come with an orange or red marker indicating a tripped breaker. If there is no indicator, look for the switch in the off position. This is normally the breaker with a switch pointing the direction opposite direction the others.
  • Step 2: Flip the switch. Push the switch into the on position to reconnect your circuit and restore power. Regular power disconnections could be caused by other electrical issues. Call a professional if you’re experiencing routine breaker overloads.

You can avoid tripped breakers by keeping appliances on separate circuits. Running several large devices from the same outlet can overload the circuit and cause a shut-off. Power-hungry appliances like dishwashers and dryers should have their own circuit.

Blown Fuses

Like breakers, fuses disconnect circuits when overloaded with excessive current. Check your fuse box in the event of unexpected power loss. Similar to a lightbulb, a blown fuse will have a broken and charred filament or circuit. Unscrew the damaged fuse and install a replacement. It’s important that your replacement fuse is the right size. Under- or over-powered fuses can cause additional trips and other problems. 

If you have a fuse box, it’s a good idea to consider a replacement. Fuse boxes aren’t designed to handle the electrical needs of modern homes. As a result, most homeowners experience regularly blown fuses. Also, fuse boxes don’t have the safety features of modern breaker boxes. Over fusing is a common issue with older fuse boxes and one that can threaten the safety of your home and family. 

Always hire a pro to handle a breaker box installation. Working with electrical systems is dangerous without the proper training and experience.

Blown Light Bulbs

Check your powerless fixture’s bulbs before making any other repairs. Old bulbs are the most common source of power loss. Replace your burned out bulbs to restore power to your fixture.

A Faulty Fixture or Appliance

Appliances and fixtures can break over time. Replacing a fixture or appliance can require the expertise of a pro. Fixtures in particular require working with potentially dangerous electrical systems. Attempting a DIY installation could result in shock or damage to your home. 

When to Call a Professional

Power problems can sometimes be symptomatic of larger issues. Call a professional electrician if dead fixtures and appliances persist. Ignoring power outages could lead to serious problems like short circuits, appliance and fixture damage, or fires.