GFI or open neutral problem?

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  #1  
Old 11-13-10, 05:26 PM
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GFI or open neutral problem?

I'm new to this homeowner thing... A circuit in the backyard (controls the lights in the pool, hoping the problem is not there...) is dead:
- cannot press Test on the outdoor GFI
With a small neon volt tester (my only electrical equipment):
- no neutral-hot (circuit is dead)
- hot-ground light
- neutral-ground light (unexpected)
Read Trade Secrets - Troubleshooting Home Electrical Problems
I'm not sure if that means I have an open neutral, or a problem in the GFI (or something else, I'm really no expert). Should I try to bypass the GFI and connect the wires directly? (Again, I'm new to this, I don't want to do something dangerous...) Thanks!
 
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Old 11-13-10, 05:56 PM
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Is the breaker tripped? Is the GFCI you are talking about a receptacle? By neon volt tester do you mean one of the plug-in testers? This is a 120v circuit, correct?
 
  #3  
Old 11-13-10, 08:39 PM
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The breaker is not tripped, I tested its screw with the ground and there was light in my tester. Also, I get light in my circuit between hot and ground, and between neutral and ground (that's not normal), but not between hot and neutral.
Tester is like this one.
The GFI is part of an outlet, like this.
Usually you can press Test, but I can't. With my other similar GFIs, when I turn turn off the breaker, I see the same behavior, you can't press Test anymore.
So I think either my GFI is broken, or I have an open neutral in the circuit, and I can't press Test on the GFI because the circuit is dead anyway. I guess I'll confirm by bypassing the GFI (unplugging it with breaker off) and see if my circuit works.
Yes, it's 120V.
 
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Old 11-13-10, 09:30 PM
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Before removing the GFCI you need to mark which cable is to the line side if you have more then one cable. You should show 120v across the black and white. If you do show 120v replace the GFCI.

If you don't show 120v what else is on the breaker? Your problem could be in one of those boxes.
 
  #5  
Old 11-14-10, 09:06 AM
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You may have an open neutral on a multi wire branch circuit, but don't rule out reversed polarity at this time either. In my opinion you really need a meter to check actual voltages.
 
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