Anyone understand home electrics?

I have one socket in the kitchen that seems to be acting up - as far as I can tell all the others are ok, kitchen was rewired about 10 years ago so not some issue with ancient wiring.

If I plug my laptop in, it seems to charge fine. But plugging in other things doesn’t work so well. The kettle starts then immediately clicks off again, a Philips Hue bulb flashes on and off fairly randomly (is fine in another socket) and an old incandescent bulb doesn’t light up at all.

Any idea what could be up? Guessing maybe something about voltage, but no idea what could cause it in just one socket? No signs that anything is up with the socket itself. Any of you knowledgeable folk know?

Personally, I wouldn’t use it. There is likely risk of fire if it is broken.

You can replace the whole socket with another one; I am sure there are loads of guides online for that or call a professional if you aren’t feeling confident

Not sure there is likely to be an easy fix, especially with the info given



Oh, absolutely - it’s turned off and i’m not going to try and fix it. Just wondering what could have happened, or if it’s likely to be part of a bigger problem

Could it be fuse related? Pure guess btw.

I’m guessing nothing has changed to make it be like this?

Could be a loose connection, seeing as the bulb was flashing

1 Like

Loose connection is all I’ve got. Assuming everything else in the kitchen is on the same circuit then there are limited things that can impact one socket only. Sockets themselves aren’t exactly complicated either.

Voltage will the same throughout the house so what one plug does, they’ll all do as will the lights.

Of course, if the wiring is non-standard then all bets are off but having been re-done 10 years ago I can’t see that being the case because any irregularities would have to have been ironed out for certification.

If it were me I’d take it off the wall and see whether anything was loose, tighten it all up and what that did for it. I do lots of this sort of stuff, though, so I’m definitely not suggesting you do that!


I’m fine with most DIY, but draw the line at plumbing and live electrics - not touching either of them.

I’ve taken the socket off the wall (turned off and isolated) and there’s nothing loose in the socket itself and the wiring all looks good. Pretty sure it’s all one circuit too, if I flip the circuit breaker on the main fuse box everything goes off. Bit of a mystery.

Will get a socket tester to see if that shows anything, but looks like time for an electrician. Thanks all.

1 Like

If you’ve had the socket off (taking all safety precautions) and all looks OK, it’ll be one of 3 things;

  • faulty socket itself (rare)
  • intermittent connection in the wire (internal break), usually near where the wires are ‘bent’ to allow the socket to be removed/replaced
  • bad connection at the other end - were there 2x 3-core 13A mains (grey) cables connecting to the socket or just one? If there were 2, it’s on a ring circuit and so current is drawn from 2 places, meaning the socket itself will likely be the issue. If there was only 1x 3-core mains (grey) cable then the issue could be at the other end of that cable or anywhere in-between. A bit trickier to find.

There’s a high risk of death and damage when fiddling with mains. I’ve spent a lifetime with electric/electronics and I’ve still been ‘surprised’ with 5 or 6 240-volt shockers over the years. Not nice. I’d recommend getting a qualified electrician to sort it asap.

1 Like

You definitely got a bad connection somewhere. You’re getting voltage though the connection but no ability to pass any significant current (and the point of bad connection could heat up or arc over and start a fire if you try). The fact that even the Hue bulb doesn’t work suggests that your laptop isn’t actually charging and the charger is cycling on/off constantly, at a rate faster than the charging indicator updates so it merely seems to be charging.

Try disconnecting the breaker and swapping sockets around and see if the problem follows the socket, and if so, just get a replacement socket. If not, check the adjacent sockets on the same circuit (which typically would feed the faulty socket, as the wires go from one to another) and see if there are any loose connections there. If you see a junction box might be worth taking a look (since you’re unsure as to what breaker would control it I suggest disconnecting the main breaker) and see if anything looks dodgy.

If still no success, call an electrician.


Rather than the guesswork or messing about I’d just get an electrician and then ask them what the issue was :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Just that :smirk:

(And resist the temptation to find a YouTube fix while you’re waiting for him :face_with_raised_eyebrow:)

1 Like

Electricity should be respected and can kill if mishandled, but it isn’t some supernatural evil spirit. Provided proper precautions are taken and once the power is turned off and verified that it is indeed off (using a multimeter on the exposed contacts before touching them), it is safe and won’t magically jump out of nowhere and kill you.

If the person is comfortable with that, then I see no harm in doing some basic troubleshooting yourself before calling out an electrician which will result in a couple hundred pounds to most likely replace a ~5£ socket. I feel like electricity is being demonized a lot despite most of us handling things that can potentially kill or set fires on a daily basis (cooking appliances, power tools, motor vehicles, etc) and still manage to stay alive. It isn’t that bad.

Of course, this is just my personal opinion.

It isn’t until it is, the trouble is it doesn’t tend to give second chances.

While you are correct here it doesn’t take much for someone to think they have taken all the proper precautions when they actually haven’t, especially when they are inexperienced.

True we all face other dangers during our day to day life but they tend to be visible and give you some time to react if/when things start to go wrong. Electricity isn’t as forgiving, it’s invisible and instant.

When it comes to electricity, the best advice for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing is to contact someone who does.


Especially as it appears to be an intermittent problem. R-

Thanks all - don’t worry, not going to do anything daft. Mostly interested in trying to understand what the problem could be, as it’s an odd failure mode (especially as the wiring isn’t old).

If you don’t reply to this thread for a while I’m going to get worried :cold_sweat:


could be neutral or earth displacement - if the CPC isn’t terminated in the socket correctly, or the cable is damaged elsewhere, your lightbulb might see a much lower voltage between live and neutral, so won’t turn on. A laptop power supply can handle a pretty wide range of voltages.

Definitely sounds like something to call an electrician over, he will have the right test gear to diagnose the issue

I ordered one of these from Amazon, and it reads 180V in the socket, every other socket reads 230V. No idea what that implies.Two lights for ‘correct’ though, so not picking up any wiring conditions (for whatever that’s worth, it’s not a replacement for an electrician’s kit). Touching the RCD test tripped the main circuit breaker to the house.

Electrician booked, so not going to try and fix it!

1 Like

But you know you’d love to. Hold firm - you know it makes sense :rofl: