Problem, perhaps from low voltage/neutral wire?

Old 05-25-03, 05:20 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Question Problem, perhaps from low voltage/neutral wire?

I'm a newbie here but would appreciate some help/advice.

My home is about 5 yrs old, new construction/custom spec home.

One of the circuit breakers covers a bedroom, bathroom, and an outdoor outlet in the back of the house. Everything on that circuit works, except for the outdoor outlet (which is dead) and one of the recessed lights in the bathroom (replaced the bulb and doesn't work).

I checked the outdoor outlet with my voltmeter and discovered that the outlet is putting out only about 105-106 volts.

So I pulled the outlet and checked the wiring:
Hot - Neutral (black/white): ~105 volts
Hot - Ground (black/bare): ~119 volts

I went back to the bathroom and pulled the light switch which controls the dead recessed light, and discovered the same situation... hot/neutral is only about 105 volts.

Is this low voltage the reason both are dead?

Is this a problem with the neutral wires? Any suggestions on what might be wrong, or how to figure out what's wrong with them? Would the same problem affect both fixtures?

Incidentally, my first instinct was a tripped GFCI, but I checked and all are reset.

Thanks for any help on a holiday weekend!
Old 05-25-03, 07:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Indiana
Posts: 317
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Have you tested the voltage at the panel? It does sound like a neutral problem. The only solution is to check the splices on the circuit ahead of the problem area's. Incidently you mentioned a outdoor receptacle and stated no GFCI's were involved , I think it may be possible you may have missed something or I don't have a clear picture.

Hope this helps
Old 05-26-03, 09:18 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 17,733
Upvotes: 0
Received 1 Upvote on 1 Post
I agree with Sparky. You have an open neutral. The low voltage readings are called "phantom voltage" and are completely meaningless (except to indicate that you didn't pay too much for your digital multimeter).

Shut off the breaker, open up the last boxes on the ciruit (the non-working ones and the adjacent working ones) and redo the white wire connections. Move any backstabs to the adjacent screws, and try to pull each individual wire from each wire nut.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: