Only partial voltage in several outlets


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Old 10-13-09, 10:06 PM
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Only partial voltage in several outlets

I have several outlets in one area of the house with partial juice. Voltmeter reads about 20 volts at every one of those outlets. I popped open the plates on those outlets and found no loose wiring. This suddenly happened the other day.
The 20 amp breaker servicing those outlet reads 110 volts.

Do I have a break in the line somewhere? Why am I getting partial voltage? How should I check this?

Thanks!!
 
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Old 10-14-09, 03:34 AM
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You removed the cover plates, but did you de-energize the circuit, remove the receptacles and ensure secure screw held connections? Stab backs can look secure, but could very well be faulty.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
.....remove the receptacles and ensure secure screw held connections? Stab backs can look secure, but could very well be faulty.
Thank you for your quick reply!

We will do what you suggested today.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 09:44 AM
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If the receptacle terminations are not made with the device screws , then to save time and trouble form "positive" wire connections at the outlet-boxes. This is best done by
disconnecting the receptacles and then splicing the wires with wire-nuts. Do nat attempt to connect any recptacles until there is 120 volts across the Black and White wires voltage at each outlet box.

When the circuit is restored to a"normal" condition, connect the receptacles to the spliced wires with device leads.Best to use the flexibility of stranded wire for the purpose. You can "pre-wire" all the receptacles before connecting them , and you can insulate the device terminals with tape.

If done properly, then the "continuity" of the wiring is not impaired by a defective device termination.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 03:24 PM
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The receptacle was completely removed from the outlet box closest to the breaker box and I am still getting a reading of just 20 volts from a lead wire coming into that box while there's no more voltage reading downstream on the rest of the outlet boxes (every outlet box read 20 volts prior to this).
Does that tell me there's a loose connection or splice somewhere between that outlet box and the breaker box? Could there be another junction box I overlooked?

Thank you!
 
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Old 10-14-09, 03:35 PM
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See if it is the hot wire or the neutral wire that is giving you this problem.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 03:38 PM
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The 20v indicates you are probably using a digital meter not an analog meter. Actual voltage is probably 0v. Phantom voltage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The receptacle nearest the breaker box is not always the first receptacle. If there are any lights on the circuit it could be in one of the ceiling fixture boxes or switch boxes. There could also be a junction box in the attic or basement depending on how the cable is run. You are going to need to check all working outlets (lights and receptacles) on the circuit next.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 04:50 PM
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Thanks for the additional replies!

To determine whether the problem lies with the lead wire or the neutral wire can I externally run either a lead or neutral wire directly from the breaker box to the closest outlet box? I don't know if this is common practice to do this or not.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by fxpose View Post
Thanks for the additional replies!

To determine whether the problem lies with the lead wire or the neutral wire can I externally run either a lead or neutral wire directly from the breaker box to the closest outlet box? I don't know if this is common practice to do this or not.
Run a grounded extension cord from a known good receptacle. From the narrow slot to neutral you should have 120v. From the wide slot to the hot wire you should have 120v.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Run a grounded extension cord from a known good receptacle. From the narrow slot to neutral you should have 120v. From the wide slot to the hot wire you should have 120v.
Thank you, that makes a lot better sense.
 
 

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