Voltage detector show power on BOTH hot & neutral

Old 07-03-13, 03:55 PM
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Voltage detector show power on BOTH hot & neutral

I was using the microwave oven and it suddenly stopped. The CB wasn't tripped but I replaced it with a new one anyway. I used 2 simple voltage detectors (one with light and the other with both light & beep. There are 3 outlets involved and all 3 show power on both hot and neutral! I checked the good receptacles elsewhere and the detectors show power only on hot side. I removed all 3 outlets to check the connection and tighten all the points. One outlet is regular, the other is with the safety button for the bathroom and the other has built-in switch for mirror light.

BTW, the microwave oven still works fine in the other room outlets.

First time post need help & many thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Old 07-03-13, 04:13 PM
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Sounds like an open neutral. Please see the sticky at the top of the forum for troubleshooting tips.
Old 07-03-13, 04:14 PM
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What type of "detector" were you using. Saying one with a light and the other with a light and beep makes me think it was the non contact type. If it looks anything like the one below then they are notorious for not being 100% reliable. They can be helpful but I've found them to very often give false positive indications for current when there is actually none.

When debugging I much prefer a contact type volt meter or electrical tester. These have two probes with metal tips that much touch what you are testing. And, believe it or not I also like a old fashioned analog needle type over a digital readout for simple home wiring as they do not show phantom readings.
Old 07-03-13, 04:18 PM
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Yes one of them is like that but the other is the old fashion contact type that looks like a small screw driver.
I will go check the sticky "open neutral" as pcboss suggested.

Thanks both,
Old 07-03-13, 04:31 PM
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Neither are contact type testers and are not reliable enough to do any meaningful testing. You need either an analog multimeter, (real) test light, or a solenoid tester (Wiggins). Cheap digital multimeters look sexy but can be more prone to false reading than a $8-$15 analog multimeter.

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