Overused old GFCI; low voltage outlets


Old 05-11-17, 07:17 AM
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Overused old GFCI; low voltage outlets

I was trying to figure out why an outlet wasn't working, and observed that it has low voltage (90-105v hot-to-neutral instead 120).

I came to find that there is a lot on one circuit all trying to the share the protection of one old GFCI. I was able to find 4 outlets in 3 bathrooms, 1 garage outlet (near a hose), and 2 outdoor outlets all sharing the circuit (and there's a good chance there are others). There's not that much actually plugged into any of these; an electric toothbrush and a shaver charger; however, I imagine it has to zigzag all over the house to accomplish this. It's a ~1985 house (USA-Ohio), the chain is on a 15 amp breaker and connected by 14 gauge wire.

So the appropriate solution would seem to be to break the chain at some outlet roughly in the middle, then run a line from that outlet to a new 15 Amp breaker and then replace it with a GFCI.

Are there any other (simpler) options?
--Is there a chance that a newer GFCI would make the long chain work?
--Can I adjust anything in the box to give the chain more capacity?

Appreciate the double-check before I embark on a large (for me) project.
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Old 05-11-17, 07:41 AM
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It sounds like you need to look for a loose neutral . Check voltage from hot to ground and compare .
Old 05-11-17, 10:28 AM
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Sorry for the unclear terminology, everything on this circuit appears to be receptacles; no lights.

I noticed that some receptacles on the circuit had the low voltage while others didn't, so I checked what appeared to be the first one in the chain with the issue. It had an exposed hot wire (someone had switched the hots from back stabbed to being screwed on the side, and left an exposed wire sticking out of the back). Fixing this did not resolve the issue.

I also checked what was probably the last receptacle in the chain which had full voltage. It is an outside outlet, had some corrosion damage and a disconnected neutral wire (Thank you pcboss). Replaced the receptacle and all of the outlets appear to be working correctly now. I will also look into protecting it better to avoid future corrosion.

There was a period this morning where voltage tested fine (117-122 hot-to-neutral) and then it went back down to 95V. So while I hesitate to declare victory, this likely did it and I will continue to monitor.
Old 05-11-17, 01:09 PM
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It may have gone down to 95v if a load was live on that circuit... IE something plugged into a receptacle. It doesn't matter how many receptacles are on a circuit.... it's the load that causes the voltage to drop.

If you measure low voltage again... go back to the correctly operating receptacles and see what they measure.

When you measure...... measure from hot to neutral and hot to ground.
This will tell you if it's a neutral or hot issue.
Old 05-15-17, 05:55 AM
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Go back to the panel and check for loose connections. Check and tighten all of the smaller screws and set screws that hold wires in place. (Do not use tremendous force.) Flip off each breaker before touching its terminal screw.

You should begin your testing of that circuit all over again, with a helper using a 100 watt incandescent light at what you think is the last receptacle on the line, turning the light on and off at your command while you check the voltage at the various receptacles on this circuit.

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