Outdoor GFCI Oulet Voltage is 50+ VAC??

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Old 07-18-16, 11:30 AM
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Outdoor GFCI Oulet Voltage is 50+ VAC??

I have a GFCI outlet on the back of my house that quit working yesterday. When I pressed the reset button, it wouldn't 'click' like a GFCI outlet should, so I replaced the GFCI outlet with a new one. Same problem. I then removed the outlet and measured the voltage directly across the hot and neutral wires: 54 VAC. Say what?

Thinking perhaps the outlet was wired through a second GFCI outlet in the kitchen that had tripped (I read somewhere that you'll sometimes see strange voltages on an outlet connected to a tripped GFCI outlet), I tried resetting the two GFCI outlets in the kitchen. No change.

I then went back and checked the outlet wiring more closely. I noticed that the stripped wire at the end of the hot lead was 'tarnished' (blackish in color but not 'burned' black), so I used some emery cloth to brighten it up. I remeasured between hot and neutral and got the same 54 VAC. On a whim I then tried measuring the voltage between the hot and ground wire. That read 120 VAC. Hmm. That could only mean (I think) that the neutral wire is 'open' somewhere within that branch. But if that were the case, I'd expect the voltage between hot and neutral to read 0 VAC, not 54 VAC. How is it I'm reading 'half' the expected AC voltage?

Can anyone explain what might be going on here? Or what I should do next to troubleshoot this problem?

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-18-16, 11:56 AM
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The neutral is not totally open. Plus digital multimeter will give some wacky voltages at times on circuits with poor connections. Check all connections on that circuit.
 
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Old 07-18-16, 06:34 PM
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Thanks. Am I correct that, since I'm reading 120 VAC between the hot and ground leads, but only 54 VAC between the hot and neutral leads, that the hot and ground wires must be ok, and that the problem is with the neutral wire?
 
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Old 07-18-16, 07:14 PM
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the hot and ground wires must be ok, and that the problem is with the neutral wire?
Yes. .
 
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Old 07-20-16, 07:42 PM
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Found the problem. The outdoor GFCI outlet's neutral wire was tied together with several other neutrals in an outlet box in the kitchen. One of the neutral wires had come loose from the wire nut, leaving the other neutrals only partially connected. Happy there wasn't a fire!

Once I re-tied all the neutrals together the outdoor outlet started working again.
 
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