bad circuit

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Old 08-13-07, 06:39 PM
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bad circuit

I am having trouble witha 20amp circuit....Ilost power in my recpt in this circuit without the breaker tripping....I checked the voltage right at the breaket and had 120v...At the 1st recpI had only 90volts...I disconnected the wires from the recpt and only had 90 volts directly on the wires...any idea's on what my next step should be...Thanks
 
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Old 08-13-07, 06:45 PM
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Are you using a digital multimeter? How did you check the voltages i.e. one lead from the meter on the hot wire and the other touching ground?
 
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Old 08-13-07, 07:01 PM
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I am using a digital meter...I had one lead on the hot and the other on the nuetral...is that wrong...should I have ground it the the box?...
 
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Old 08-13-07, 07:06 PM
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No , your testing method is fine, but your meter is not the best for residential work. What you are reading there is most likely phantom voltage, which is as unfortunate drawback to digital multimeters.

The most likely situation here is that you have no voltage at that receptacle and you have either a broken wire, or a broken connection. Are you sure that this is the first outlet on this circuit, could there be a junction before this outlet?
 
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Old 08-13-07, 07:53 PM
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You are getting phantom voltage. Ignore the 90 volts, and treat it as zero volts.

You have an open circuit. Start looking for a failed connection. The failed connection is at the last working location on the circuit or the first non-working location.
 

Last edited by racraft; 08-14-07 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 08-13-07, 08:35 PM
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If you want to be sure it is phantom voltage plug in a load at the receptacle such as a light and then test voltage at receptacle. As stated you will almost certainly get 0 volts.
 
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Old 08-15-07, 04:01 PM
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90 volt reading on a digital meter may not be phantom. Go to a store that sells elect. supplies and buy a "circuit tester". I think even the Home Depot sells them. It plugs into your recp. and has three indicator lights on it. Two are amber, one is red. Right on the top is a "code" that tells you what the problems is based on what lights are on. Start from the closest recp. to the panel and work your way to the problem recp. Great tool, have been using one for over 15 years.
 
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Old 08-15-07, 06:14 PM
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What possible way could 90 volts NOT be phantom voltage??

The OP has 120 volts at the breaker , so how could the circuit suddenly be reduced to 90 volts at the receptacle ?
 
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Old 08-17-07, 01:22 PM
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phantom juice

Long ago I learned to use no more than a simple 1Kohm/V meter on power circuits. But the best tester in troubleshooting here is an incadescent lamp. I have in the past measured full line voltage with a Hi-Z meter and was puzzled why things did not work owing to a poor connection that passed a small current enough to sense, but not enough to pass the expected normal current.
 
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