Outlets reading 75V

Old 06-16-03, 12:07 PM
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Outlets reading 75V

I'm in a fairly new home - 1.5 years old. Two outlets in one room recently quit working. (The two outlets are fed by one line from the main panel.) With my voltmeter, I discovered these readings:
black wire to white wire - 74 volts
black wire to ground wire - 120 volts
white wire to ground wire - 21 volts

(On a working outlet on the opposite wall, I read:
black to white - 120 volts
black to ground - 120 volts
white to ground - 0 volts)

I was surprised to find any voltage at all at the bad outlets. Any explanation, or suggestions what to look at next?
Old 06-16-03, 12:32 PM
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The 21 Volts are really not there. You're reading a phantom voltage. You have a disconnected neutral. If those two outlets are indeed fed via a dedicated line from the panel then you'll need to first check the first outlet (from the patel side), and look for any loose connections. If everything looks ok then you'll need to trace the circuit back to the panel and look for a loose white wire. It may be in the panel itself, but it will probably be at the first outlet.
Old 06-16-03, 12:35 PM
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Sounds like an open neutral. How are the receptacles wired (did they use the backstab connections). Go to the last working recep on that circuit and check all the connections or splices.
Old 06-16-03, 01:12 PM
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Actually, I unscrewed the outlet from the wall and looked at the wires behind it. I got the same voltage readings whether I put the probes in the outlet holes, or on the side screws, or directly on the wires in back. Does that prove that the outlet is OK and the problem is upstream?

The outlets are wired with the backstab connections. Other threads I have read here explain why that's not as good. Tonight when I get home I'll change them to the screw connectors.
Old 06-16-03, 05:45 PM
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It doesn't prove that the receptacle is okay, but it strongly suggests that it is. It does confirm that there is a problem other than the receptacle.

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