2 voltages from same outlet?

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Old 06-28-17, 03:32 PM
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2 voltages from same outlet?

Hey guys, I have been having some electrical issues in a house we moved into a year ago. A few outlets have 120v in top outlet and 15v in bottom outlet. I'm not an electrician but it seems hard to believe since both outlets come off the same side bus connection. What am I missing here?
 
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Old 06-28-17, 03:39 PM
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Sounds like you need to check for a worn receptacle or a loose connection .
 
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Old 06-28-17, 03:54 PM
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What country are you located? Normal voltages vary country to country.

It is possible the bottom one is switched and the 15volts is just phantom voltage. What meter are you using?
 
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Old 06-28-17, 04:26 PM
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I think it's a switched receptacle too especially if you don't have ceiling light fixtures in the rooms with voltage issues
 
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Old 06-28-17, 04:51 PM
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I am in the US, the switched receptacle is not effected. I am using a Klein tools MM400, auto ranging on V. Every other receptacle in the house reads 120 or 121 volts. The house is only 9 years old so I doubt the receptacle is worn. It is all 3 outlets on the same wall...
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:00 PM
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You will need to turn the power off, remove the receptacles from the wall and check out their wiring. Don't disconnect the wires.

Possibly they were set up for switching and that part of the circuit has the problem.
You'll know better when you see the wiring.

You can describe the wiring to us.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:02 PM
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A digital meter can be affected by induced voltages. There are $150+ Klines that have a special circuit to reject induced voltage but cheaper ones may not. However any cheap analog multimeter will usually ignore induced voltage because of its inherent low impedance.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:10 PM
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OK so I have found a few other outlets that read the same, seems any outlet near a window is the same way. The circuit breaker reads "Outlets/Candles". The outlets have 2 red wires in the top and 2 black wires going to the bottom, plus the white on each opposite side. Is it possible someone used candles that ran on 15v? Pretty odd setup if that is the case. Where would the 15v be coming from, a transformer?

Some of the other outlets read, 120-122 on top, 22-24 on bottom.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:25 PM
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The outlets have 2 red wires in the top and 2 black wires going to the bottom, plus the white on each
That indicates a problem that needs correcting.
  • If there are two wires under a single screw the two wires need to be pigtailed to the screw. Only one wire per screw.
  • If one wire is back stabbed and one under the screw they need to be pigtailed to the screw only. Backstabs are unreliable and shouldn't be used.
    [#]If it is a cheap contractor grade receptacle with backstabs only it need to be replace with a receptacle that has screws.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:38 PM
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Top outlet has one black screwed and one black back stabbed. The other outlet has one red screwed and one back stabbed. My wife said the woman that previously owned the house mentioned having candles but I can't imagine special wiring for 14v-24v candles. I don't see any type of transformer near the breaker panel that would be making this lower voltage.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:40 PM
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Yes, it would be from a transformer. It could be any place. Garage, mech room, closet, etc.
Yes, it would be very unconventional to wire it that way.

Panel indexes can be kind of hit and miss. However, being only 9 years old it is likely better.

The red and black also leads me to believe it is a switched receptacle. Try turning on every switch you can find and retesting.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 05:55 PM
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Top outlet has one black screwed and one black back stabbed. The other outlet has one red screwed and one back stabbed.
That needs to be corrected by pigtailing. low voltage may be due to backstabs.

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Old 06-28-17, 06:02 PM
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The 14 outlets all under windows on the front of the house are this same way. I guess I will leave them how they are for now. There is obviously no shortage of plugs. I guess I should start pig tailing each outlet but I dont think 2 sets of pig tails will fit in each box.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 06:05 PM
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Its not going to be a low voltage circuit of any kind and what are you getting when you test from black to ground. A fast way to find out what's up is turn off that circuit and unscrew a ground wire and touch it to a neutral then turn the circuit back on and test between black and white if you get 120 again it's a loose neutral. If that's it you need to start checking outlets near the ones that are dead that work properly and you will find a loose connection. DON'T FORGET TO PUT THE GROUND YOU USED TO TEST WITH BACK ON THE GROUND SCREW. You can't leave it that way
 
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Old 06-28-17, 06:36 PM
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The 14 outlets all under windows on the front of the house are this same way.
I've wired custom homes like that. Those are probably on a timer for holiday decorations. Look near the panel for a timeclock.
 
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Old 06-28-17, 07:40 PM
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Are we talking about inside or outside receptacles also low voltage and high can't be in the same box. The candle label I thought ment for plug in candlestick lights that go on the inside the house and set in a window sil for decoration. They are switched you need to try and find it. The red wire is there and that alone says switch leg and see if the tab is broken on the outlet, on the side of the outlet look at the screws that have red and black wires connected to them and you will see a small piece of metal that is missing linking the 2 together. The switch controlling those outlets will be by the front or back door or maybe by the man door in the garage but trust me that's all it is so check the tab and if it's missing then 100 percent that's the problem
 
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Old 06-28-17, 07:47 PM
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CFelty79 - Yes these are indoors, and among many switches that do not appear to do anything, there is one fat switch near the front door that does switch all the 15-24v to 120v! Thanks for that
 
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Old 06-29-17, 09:55 AM
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No problem I'm glad we could help you. Fyi if it's a fat switch it probably is on a 3way system meaning there is another switch in the house that controls those outlets along with the one you just found and again it's going to be around a front or back door or garage something like that. Glad we could help
 
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Old 06-30-17, 04:33 PM
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there is one fat switch near the front door that does switch all the 15-24v to 120v! Thanks for that

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Old 07-01-17, 10:44 AM
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No problem buddy have a good holiday weekend
 
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