Outlet is not working


Old 02-14-05, 12:15 PM
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Unhappy Outlet is not working

The outlet (this is a regular 3-hole one) in my bathroom stopped working suddenly. I found out that the voltage between hot and neutral is somewhere between 30V to 60V. The voltage between the hot and ground is 120V.

At first I thought it was the problem of the outlet, but I found the outlet in another bathroom, which is a GFCI one, had the same problem too.

I tried to switch the breaker to the off position and turn it on again. It did not solve the problem.

I disconnected two outlets. The problem is still there.

Now I suspect the breaker is not good. The label on the breaker says it is for GFI circuit, but I did not see special GFI parts (except the one on the second outlet).

Any suggestions? Thank you.
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Old 02-14-05, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
These are the symptoms of an open neutral. Search this forum for "open neutral" and you can read a lot about this. The solution is to shut off the breaker, open up every box on this circuit (working or not), and reterminate the connections of the white wires. If they are poked into holes (backstabs), release them from the backstab with a small screwdriver in the slot, and reterminate the wires to the adjacent screws.

Did this start happening when somebody was using a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner?

The other less likely explanation (given your symptoms) is that the GFCI is tripped. Before going to all the trouble above, at least try pressing the reset button on the GFCI receptacle.
Old 02-14-05, 12:53 PM
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We did not notice the problem until my wife tried to use hairdryer this morning. We did use vacuum clearner yesterday on the same outlet.

I have disconnected the GFCI outlet, and did not see other GFCI parts. The breaker controls only the outlets in bathrooms.

I will do research on this forum and post result here.
Old 02-14-05, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,669
Loose neutral somewhere on the circuit. Could be the neutral connections in the panel box.
Old 02-14-05, 08:24 PM
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It seems the problem has been solved.

I found out that the outlets I disconnected are protected by another GFCI outlet, which tripped for some reasons. Resetting the tripped outlet solves the problem.

Thank everyone for suggestions.

Panel box -----> GFCI outlet -----> GFCI outlet
|---> regular outlet (X: not working)
Old 02-14-05, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
I would consider rewiring the first GFCI so that it does not feed through to the second GFCI. This would mean the wires that are presently on the load side need to move to the line side, possibly meaning you need pigtails to make the connections.
Old 02-15-05, 07:42 AM
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racraft, does it do any good to bypass the first GFCI? If I bypass it, I will have to by another GFCI outlet to replace the regular one.
Old 02-15-05, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
You should only have one GFCI protecting the regular receptacle. If you have more then you run the risk of experiencing this very problem.

In the event of a fault, one GFCI may trip, the other may trip, or both may trip. You confuse people because they can't understand why the GFCI isn't tripped, or why it won't reset.

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