Open Neutral

Old 05-22-03, 09:48 AM
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Open Neutral

Could someone please give me a quick piece of advice?

I am selling a house that has been on the market for 10 months. Needless to say I am eager to get rid of it. I'm closing on Tuesday.

I just got the inspectors report and one of the items references "open neutrals at the kitchen outlets (on both sides of the sink)".

Two questions....One, I didn't know you could isolate an open neutral that precisely. I thought you could just narrow it to a particular circuit. Could someone address this?

Two, isn't an open neutral usually just a neutral wire that has come loose? Either it wasn't screwed down properly or wasn't backstabbed right, correct?

The reason I ask is that I already have to be there to replace a few GFI's that the inspector said didn't work, fix a leaky faucet, etc. If all I have to do is screw a few neutrals down again, that is no big deal.

Thanks a lot,
Old 05-22-03, 11:24 AM
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The inspector used an $8 circuit tester. You can buy your own for $8 too. It has three lights on it. One combination means "open neutral". Any idiot with $8 can make this test in a couple of seconds.

If the receptacle really has an open neutral, it will not work. So if you plug a radio or lamp into that receptacle and it works, then the neutral is not really open.

Often open neutrals are pretty easy to fix. Most of the time you find that the receptacle was wired with a backstab (stick the wire in the hole) connection that has failed. The usual solution is to move the white wire to the adjacent screw. Sometimes, it could also be a GFCI that has failed.

Although fixing an open neutral is easy, finding it can be time-consuming, since you may have to look in a lot of places.

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