Dead outlet shows open neutral

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Old 06-26-17, 06:45 AM
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Dead outlet shows open neutral

Hello All,

We were power washing the house yesterday w/ an electric power washer and after a time the machine quit. It draws 14.5 amps and I thought it tripped a breaker, however none showed tripped. I checked the outlet w/ a tester and only the white light lit denoting the open neutral?? weird ... it just worked 10 min. prior. This is an outside outlet that does not have a gfi outlet and is in the back of the house where we were washing. The outlet in the front of the house has also gone off showing the same status (open neutral). I dont know which breaker it is connected to and cant find out w/ a breaker detector because the device you plug in does not light up?? vol
1.. how to tell which outlet is problem?
2.. I ordered a fluke volt alert last night and will check outlet when it comes in.
3.. Why all of a sudden does this outlet show open neutral?
4.. how do I check "upstream" if this outlet checks out ok?
Any help / direction here will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
cvbs
 
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  #2  
Old 06-26-17, 06:50 AM
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Look for a GFCI outlet. It could be anyplace. Usual places found is bathrooms. garage. Any outside outlets. If none found there look all around expectantly behind furniture.
 
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Old 06-26-17, 06:52 AM
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Would this show "open neut" on tester???
 
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Old 06-26-17, 07:21 AM
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I ordered a fluke volt alert last night and will check outlet when it comes in
Non contact testers are useless for determining if you really have voltage. For that you need a multimeter (a cheap-$8-$15- analog is better than a digital).3.
Why all of a sudden does this outlet show open neutral?
If a plug in tester they can be misleading. It could really be no ground.
how do I check "upstream" if this outlet checks out ok
Use a multimeter. Problem may be at last working or first non working. Any backstabbed wires should be moved to the screws. (Backstabs sometimes fail over time.)
 
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Old 06-26-17, 07:52 AM
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Thank you Ray.... I'll post findings for education sake!
 
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Old 06-27-17, 06:38 PM
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no power outlet

Hi Ray,

So I tested the outlet w/ a meter. I am not showing any major power across the positive and neut. legs. Only .8 max. when set at 200. I do show power from positive to ground. Would this indicate open neut to you?
 
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Old 06-27-17, 06:45 PM
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Yes, that is an open neutral . Have you tried to reset the gfi?
 
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Old 06-27-17, 07:05 PM
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No GFI involved. And as you probably read I do not show any Breaker tripped. Suggestions???
 
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Old 06-27-17, 07:21 PM
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It is not a GFI problem. When a GFI trips it breaks hot and neutral.

You must identify everything on that circuit. Then go to the closest working location near your outdoor receptacle and check there.

There is no easy way to find an open neutral. You have to check thru the circuit to find where it opened. Typically it's caused by a receptacle using back stabbed (push in) connections. Those stabs weaken with age and just open up.
 
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Old 06-27-17, 07:39 PM
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Thanks Pete. I guess the only way to tell which breaker controls that since none tripped... is to keep the meter engaged on the outlet and keep flipping breakers till I do not get a reading on the meter??
I do hope you have an easier way !
 
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Old 06-27-17, 08:03 PM
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One thing I consider a homeowner priority is to make a list of what is on what circuit. It always comes in handy especially when a circuit fails.

When I get called to a customers house.... I have to identify the entire problem circuit. That drives the labor part of the bill up.

keep the meter engaged on the outlet and keep flipping breakers till I do not get a reading on the meter??
That's about it unless you buy a circuit tracer where you plug a transmitter into the receptacle and check with a receiver at the panel. Not terribly cost effective for one problem.
 
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Old 06-27-17, 08:41 PM
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Or plug in a trouble light on an extension cord so it is in view of the breaker box. Or use an AC powered radio loud enough to be heard from the breaker box.
 
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Old 06-27-17, 10:38 PM
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Sometimes a breaker can look on but it's tripped. This is a long shot but try turning them all the way of then back on they are spring loaded. If that doesn't work open the outlet you're plugged into because a big load like a pressure washer will make a weak connection fail all together. If that doesn't work try the other outside outlet. Older homes have weather proof covers but the gasket fails pretty quick and corrosion eats up the connections so pjmax is right if that doesn't work tearing apart the circuit is the only way and it's a loose neutral you will be looking for
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:53 AM
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Not enough power coming through the pos and neut legs to make any bulb light up
 
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Old 06-28-17, 06:06 AM
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I will flip the breakers while meetering the outlet to try to figure out what breaker it is and then I will know what other outlets to check.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 02:27 PM
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Not enough power coming through the pos and neut legs to make any bulb light up
If you are using a digital meter you are probably getting a false reading due to induced voltage. It is likely actually 0 volts. So the minor reading may be induced voltage. It may go to 0 when you have turned off the circuit inducing the voltage but it may not be the circuit you are trying to turn off.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 02:45 PM
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If you use a meter.... you need to put the probes in the small slot which is hot and the ground hole. You can't use the large/neutral slot as it is dead.
 
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Old 07-02-17, 10:47 AM
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Ok!! Very baffled here. I had my wife flip each breaker off and then back on as I checked the outlet hot to ground eAch time and NONE of them eliminated a reading on my electric meter. The lowest reading I got was 100. I had the meter set for 200.
I did not shut off breakers that went to water heater, stove,or AC, and Main. I thought nothing else would be connected to them as they draw so much to begin with.
Have I lost my mind??? How can that be that I still read at least 100??
Please help. I am a very stubborn person and I want to do this myself. I need suggestions of what I missed checking.
Tia
Cvbs
 
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Old 07-02-17, 12:11 PM
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Assuming #14 wire to the receptacles shut off all 15 amp single pole breakers at the same time. Is it now dead?
 
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Old 07-02-17, 01:00 PM
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Instead of using s meter..... use the plug in tester you described in your first post.
That seems to be able to give you a positive power indication.
 
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Old 07-02-17, 07:58 PM
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Red face

Pete and Ray,

Gentleman Thank You both for hanging in here w/me.

Ray... you mentioned I should use the plug tester... I did. This time I showed nothing lighting at all !! I asked my wife if she had flipped the GFCI and she said she hadn't . I went and checked it and saw it was half way ... I flipped it off then back to full on and plug tester lit up. It now shows both lights lit which indicates "wired correctly"
Ready to eat crow on this site because I did not think that it was connected to the GFCI I breathed a sigh of relief that the problem was not a problem anymore, I decided to shower and relax. After the shower I tried to use the hair dryer and found it only worked in the top half of the outlet. Yes, it had worked in that half before. I tried switching several times back and forth just to check my sanity ! Nothing on the bottom at all.. This outlet is also on the same GFCI breaker (all are regular outlets by the way.. no individual GFCI's)
I decided to recheck each outlet, bathroom, front and back, all that are connected to the GFCI in the panel box. I checked across pos. and neut and got readings but only short burst to 120 most 99 to 103, including bottom of outlet that the hair dryer would not work in. I know CRAZY >>>

I am beginning to believe that the GFCI breaker might be failing???? I put all my equipment away and go back to the bathroom and plug in the dryer to the bottom of the outlet ... and it comes on fine!!! I go back and get the volt meter and put the prongs in pos and neut and 120 shows up clean as she can be !!
My questions..
do I replace GFCI breaker and all 3 outlets???

and again Gentleman .... Thank You for staying w/ me !! Very, very much appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

This is truly a learning experience ....
ps ... Pete ..I will knock off each breaker and make a list of each outlet and light that goes out!! EXCELLENT idea !!

I await your replies!
 
  #22  
Old 07-02-17, 09:37 PM
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If they are non GFCI receptacles it is unlikely they are bad. Nothing inside to go bad. Try replacing the GFCI breaker if you still have problems.
Ray... you mentioned I should use the plug tester
If I mentioned them at all it was to say they are not always accurate. I did write to say do not waste your money on a non contact tester.

Glad you got it. Let us know if you need any more help.
 
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