Open neutral?


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Old 10-21-17, 12:40 PM
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Open neutral?

Ok, this is long winded so please bare with me. I'm a landlord and I do most repairs myself, but when it's something beyond me I will call in a pro so I don't make things work. I'm not an electrician, I can only do basic stuff like replace a faulty light switch or power outlet. So if anyone is able to help me with this problem, I'll need to be walked through things step by step as if I'm a small stupid child.



Here it goes.



The power outlet, a regular non GFCI outlet, in the spare bathroom of my rental property stopped working on Thursday. I replaced it with a new one and it seemed to get power for a moment but then nothing. I thought I traced the problem to the GFCI outlet in the master bathroom across the house, because that one wasn't working either. I replaced that outlet as well but I was still having issues.



Both the red and green lights on the new outlet would stay on, no blinking or anything, it's providing no power, and pressing the test button does nothing. If I press the reset button in and hold it as it wants to pop back out, that outlet will come alive as will the one in the spare bathroom. But if it moves too far in or out it's back to being dead. I thought the outlet might have been a lemon so I got it exchanged for a new one and installed it. The problem remained. My cousin who works construction for a living said maybe I got the black wires reversed, so I switched them around and then nothing came on, no red or green lights.



I put it back to the way I had it originally and I'm back to where I started with indicator lights on but no actual power.



Today I did a bit of googling and tried going to every GFCI outlet in and out of the house holding down just their reset buttons. No dice. I also went around with my little three light tester to each and they all checked out except for an outdoor one. The tester is saying it has an open neutral, This outlet is also the furthest one from the circuit breaker, which all checked out fine near as I can tell, none had been tripped or were loose.



My cousin says it sounds to him like the black wires are reversed on the outside outlet, but if that's the case then why did everything else work just fine up until a few days ago? What's my next step? Pull the outside outlet and switch the wires around and see if that works?



Please help, I'm desperate.
 
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Old 10-21-17, 02:19 PM
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The instructions should say what t the light's mean. It is not the same for all brands.

The wires need to be paired properly, not just the blacks.
 
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Old 10-21-17, 03:01 PM
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I've read the instructions, it only says "if red light is blinking, yadda yadda yadda", There was nothing about if both lights were on and steady.
 
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Old 10-21-17, 03:34 PM
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You need to use a multimeter to test the circuit wiring starting at the faulty outlet working your way back to the breaker to find the problem. The GFCI outlet you replaced sounds to supply power down stream. Are you aware that GFCI outlets have a Line side connection and a Load side connection?
 
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Old 10-21-17, 03:37 PM
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One pair of black and white wires when measured with an analog multimeter will read ~120 volts. You can't guess. You can't use a non contact tester. That pair goes to the side of the receptacle marked Line. Not just the blacks swapped but also the whites swapped will prevent it from working.
 
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Old 10-21-17, 04:07 PM
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The only multimeter I have is a cheap $6 one from Harbor Freight, which is currently broken anyway.

You're also talking a bit of greek to me with this line load stuff, remember I'm a rank ammeter here. But I was careful to mark which wire went where when I was removing the original outlet. I believe the instructions said white to the silver screws and the black to the bronze screws, which is what I did. Is it possible I just need to reverse the white wires because the new outlet wants them in a different location?
 
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Old 10-21-17, 04:36 PM
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There is a Line side and a Load side to a GFCI other than just connecting by the brass and silver screws. Incoming power connects to the Line side and outgoing to other outlets connects to the Load side.
 
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Old 10-21-17, 04:50 PM
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You can't go by position of LINE on the old one because different manufacturers put it on different ends. It will be written on the receptacle.

A $6 multimeter is okay. An analog is preferable. You really shouldn't be doing electrical without a multimeter. It's not something you guess at./
 
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Old 10-25-17, 02:34 PM
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Ok, I was finally able to get over there today to fiddle with it some more.

I tried reversing the white wires, and it yielded no change. So I reversed the black wires, and like before when I switched them, nothing would light up at all. As a last resort I tried installing a third outlet with the wires in their original locations, and I got a green light saying everything is working but still no power.

What would be my next step? Go to every outlet connected to that circuit breaker and check it for power, or just go through each one by one pulling them out and making sure all the wires are still connected?
 
 

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