This 3 prong outlet is kicking my @$$


Old 04-15-03, 01:37 PM
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Question This 3 prong outlet is kicking my @$$

Ever since I drywalled my garage my garage outlets work sometimes, and sometimes they won't. The house is now up for sale and I know they are going to have a home inspection done.

I have a three prong circuit tester. The one with a red and two orange lights. What I am getting (outlets not working) is an open neutral. When I keep the tester plugged in and plug in a device (stereo or battery charger) it changes to "hot and ground reversed".

I am ready to pull these things out of the wall as I have been up and down the basement stairs about 40x today.

What am I missing?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-15-03, 02:28 PM
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If these are "standard" receptacles be positively certain that they are not connected to the "Load" side of a GFI receptacle which may or may not be located in the garage.

If you'r certain it's not a GFI problem then test the conductors that connect to the receptacles using a simple test-lamp socket. Each receptacle outlet-box should have a Black conductor,a White conductor, and a Grounding conductor which could be a bare wire or a metal outlet-box.

The first test obviously is directly across the Black & White wires. 0 volts Black-to-White and 110 volts Black-to Ground indicates an open Neutral (White wire). If this is the condition and there are 2 Blacks and 2 Whites connected to the receptacle, dis-connect the receptacle and Wire-Nut White-to-White and Black-to-Black and then test another receptacle, dis-connecting all receptacles with "4-wire" connections. It's important to have solid White-to-White and Black-to-Black wire connections at ALL outlet-boxes until you find the break in the circuit.

0 volts Black-to-White and 0 volts Black-to-Ground indicates an open in the Black wire or a possible "tripped" circuit-breaker.

Please inform us if you restore the circuit to normal or if the problem still exists with all wires in the garage outlets boxes connected directly together to form a closed-circuit.-----Good Luck!!!!
Old 04-15-03, 02:29 PM
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Believe the open neutral. When you plug another device in, the open neutral looks hot (since there is no return path) so the tester is not able to really diagnose at that point. The experts that frequent this site would tell you to start looking for a loose backstab connection at one of the outlets. The problem could be at an outlet that is working, but feed the rest downstream.
Old 04-15-03, 03:17 PM
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I'm starting to think that I have a loose neutral on the way back to (or in) the the cb box.

I have 48 V black to white
I have 120 V black to ground
I have 80 V white to ground.

If I jumper white to ground my 3 prong connector says I am correct. If I then plug in a device the gfi cb in the box trips.

I will take the advice to check all the receptacles that I know are on this circuit, but I wonder if there is another one somewhere.

Oh, and the outlet outside the front door is on this same gfi cb and it works fine...
Old 04-15-03, 05:45 PM
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Post open neutral

Ever since I drywalled my garage my garage outlets work sometimes, and sometimes they won't.
The most likely scenario is that you drove a nail or screw into a cable somewhere and damaged it
Old 04-16-03, 08:13 PM
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How do you find that spot where the nail or screw made contact with the wire?

I have a case where there is continuity between the neutral and ground wires, and they have not been connected at either end.
Old 04-17-03, 08:13 AM
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Could be clamp in a box squeased too tight.
Old 04-17-03, 09:54 PM
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Suppose the clamps are not at fault. How do you locate the screw or nail that's making the contact?
Old 04-17-03, 10:04 PM
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You will have to go to the last working outlet on that circuit and replace the wire between it and the next outlet that is not working.
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