Open Neutral on ALL receptacles for a room

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  #1  
Old 05-27-13, 10:38 AM
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Open Neutral on ALL receptacles for a room

Hi. I have 3 receptacles, 1 light switch, and a ceiling fan hole with a bunch of wires (4 line, each with black, white, and bare) connected together. I've had problems with these and the ceiling fan was removed, and I'm not sure how it was wired. I put in a light fixture for a single lightbulb that was working. One of the two restrooms next to the room run on the same circuit. That one has a 2 pole light switch, a ceiling light, a wall light, and an extractor fan.

I replaced the three outlets (with new ones), both light switches (with new ones), and every connection seems secure. There are no back-stabbed connection.

U used a three prong, three light Ideal brand tester that reads OPEN NEUTRAL in all three receptacles. I also used a two prong, dial, and scale multimeter to test by sticking a prong in the side connected to the designed cable outlets to read:
Hot-Ground: 125V
Neutral-Ground: ~15V
Not-Neutral~50 Volts

There are no pigtails in the receptacles or switch themselves, but there ARE pigtails where the bedroom ceiling fan was.
Four lines: 3 whites together, 3 blacks together, 3 bares together, and for the fourth line everything was separate and taped off. I think it was to the bedroom switch, which did not have any voltage either with the multimeter or a non contact tester. But it did have some after i hooked up all 4 lines together the same way (3 bunches, black, white, and bares). I put the light fixture (black, white, ground) on the 3 bunches with the lightswitch separated and with the lightswitched combined.

No lights work and the tester always reads Open Neutral.


I do remember last time that there were problems, the lights did not work until I connected a lamp to one of the receptacles...

The breaker box (there is only one in the house) has a 15 amp breaker for this circuit. I took out the extractor fan and put a receptacle that is just hanging there instead. The restroom switch is a 2 post swith with black, white, red, and bare. I bought a ?switch with 2 switches? (I don't know the correct term) and connected black to one side with the tab intact, white and red to the other side, and bare to the green screw (5 screws).


I have no idea what to do anymore.
 
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Old 05-27-13, 11:20 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

Everything you told use tells me that your tester is correct. You have an open neutral.

I suggest starting at the source. Make sure all the connections in the panel are tight. Then find which circuit it is and turn it off at the panel. Then check everything that does not work for your loose connection. There has to be one, you just haven't found it yet. Also look in the attic for any junction boxes.
 
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Old 05-27-13, 12:50 PM
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The restroom switch is a 2 post swith with black, white, red, and bare. I bought a ?switch with 2 switches? (I don't know the correct term) and connected black to one side with the tab intact, white and red to the other side, and bare to the green screw (5 screws).
The correct term is "duplex switch."

That sounds like 4 wires and 4 screws. Are there any other cables and wires in that switch box?

I have no idea what to do anymore.
You have an open neutral. See Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light, Basic Terminology & Other info, one of the sticky notes at the top of this forum.

Read Wiring Simplified. You may be able to find it in the electrical aisle at a home improvement center.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 05-27-13 at 02:33 PM.
  #4  
Old 05-27-13, 02:39 PM
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I have 3 receptacles, 1 light switch, and a ceiling fan hole with a bunch of wires (4 line, each with black, white, and bare) connected together. I've had problems with these and the ceiling fan was removed
What kind of problems were you having? While I agree you have a neutral problem, I wouldn't call it an open neutral as much as I'd call it a bad or loose neutral connection. Because you are reading 50 volts, hot to neutral, I believe you have a loose neutral connection. If the loose neutral is what you earlier had problems with, the problem could be anywhere in the circuit including all junction boxes wherever they may be located; including basement and/or attic. If the previous problem was something else, the loose neutral will probably be found in one of the boxes you have been working in.
 
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Old 05-27-13, 03:20 PM
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Thanks everyone. I'll recheck the breaker wires and that the wires in the receptacles, switches, and light fixture are tight and secure and see if I notice any voltage difference after. What Voltages should I be reading?

The problems before were that the fan had stopped working, and if I remember correctly, all the lights and receptacles also stopped working afterwards (it was just there still, hanging uselessly until everything else stopped working, so it was removed). The lights have been working for a while, but I had not tested anything before to look for problems, so I do not know if all the receptacles have had Open Neutral all this time or if it suddenly occurred.

The restroom switch box only had the one cable with four wires.

Is there a device or cheap/easy way to find out what cable runs to which receptacle/switch/fixture by say, disconnecting all the pigtailed wires in the bedroom ceiling space and then attaching said device to 1 wire from each cable to apply electricity and then look for the corresponding cable with the multimeter? To map out the circuit and try to isolate the problem?

Oh and we don't have an attic. The breaker box is outside.
 
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Old 05-27-13, 03:26 PM
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A toner called a Fox and Hound will send a tone down a wire that can be followed. The big box stores may have a simple toner for less than $40 called a Lan Tester from Gardner-Bender.
 
  #7  
Old 05-27-13, 03:44 PM
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Thanks I'll check out the Fox and Hound and the Gardner-Bender devices.
 
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