Open Neutral? Need Help!

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  #1  
Old 02-04-15, 08:19 PM
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Open Neutral? Need Help!

Hello All,
I am having trouble with a 15A circuit that is protected by a GFI breaker in the service panel box. The circuit as far as I can tell is short with 2 receptacles, 1 switch, and one light. One receptacle, switch, and light is in my master bath and the other receptacle is in an adjacent second bath. I live in Chesapeake, VA and the home was built in 1989.

Symptoms:
I replaced the switch in the master bath over a year ago and not long after, the vanity light that the switch controls would turn off on its own for period of time and come back on. I replaced the switch and didn't have any more problems. Yesterday the same thing happened and today the light would not come on. The breaker never tripped during any of this.

Current troubleshooting:
I tested the receptacle in the master bath and determined that it was not working, so I used a circuit tester and got a "hot and ground reversed" indication. I check the receptacles, switch, and light and all connections appeared correct and tight. Because the receptacles were old and back-stabbed, I replaced them both. I also replaced the switch again. No luck. I used my voltmeter and determined that my hot wire was reading 122v and the neutral was reading 97v. It seems like an open neutral, but I am not sure what to do next.

Any help would be appreciated.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-04-15, 10:49 PM
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Hot-ground reversed indication with a three-light tester usually means a missing neutral.

When you write that you tested the hot at 122 volts and the neutral at 97 volts where did you connect the other voltmeter lead? The equipment grounding conductor? If yes, then I suspect that you do indeed have a missing neutral and the 97 volts is what is called a phantom voltage. This is common when using a digital meter.

You need to go back towards the source of the power checking the neutral connections.
 
  #3  
Old 02-05-15, 06:59 AM
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If as Furd suspects you are using a digital multimeter you really should get an analog multimeter (a cheap [$8-$15] one is fine).
 
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Old 02-05-15, 04:25 PM
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Furd / Ray,
Thank you for the information. When I checked the hot and neutral wires, I placed the black lead of the voltmeter to the ground on the receptacle. I will take the advice on the analog voltmeter.

After thinking on what else might be on a 15A GFI protected circuit, it hit me to check the down stairs bathroom receptacle...and viola! - that was the issue. The neutral wire was back stabbed and loose. For good measure, I replaced that receptacle too and I am now good to go.

I am proud to be a DIY'er and take a great deal of satisfaction of taking care of my home. I am truly grateful for this forum and to you guys for the help.
 
  #5  
Old 02-05-15, 04:29 PM
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Good troubleshooting. Thanks for letting us know.
 
  #6  
Old 02-05-15, 05:02 PM
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...and viola!
A viola is an orchestral stringed instrument larger than a violin but smaller than a cello. The word you meant to use is voila, pronounced Wahla with the accent on the second syllable.

Thus ends today's language lesson.
 
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Old 02-05-15, 06:33 PM
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Very Funny Furd
What I recommend is plugging that Viola into a 100 watt Marshall Stack, and "Voila"

Good one man...
 
  #8  
Old 02-06-15, 01:08 PM
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Wahla, eh? Well I only said viola because I couldn't spell violin!
 
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