Outlet measures voltage but doesn't work

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Old 06-23-18, 06:38 PM
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Outlet measures voltage but doesn't work

Short story: outlet leads are measuring the following:

hot-neutral: 114.0V
hot-ground: 119.0V
ground-neutral: 2.9V

However, a 50W lamp connected between the hot and the neutral does not light up. Connected between the hot and the ground it works.

Long story: I had a very old deck inherited from the previous owner, with some lights and outlets which used to work. Recently I had the deck taken out but saved the power line, shortening it some to install an outlet in a new location. Installing the outlet, this is what I see. A lamp plugged into the outlet (or just touched to the hot and neutral leads) does not work, but the voltages measure as above. The other end of the line connects as a load to an outlet near the house. The connection seems ok there: black to black, white to white, ground to ground. The outlet from the deck is hauled away with the rest of the deck debris, so I can't check how it used to be wired.

Any ideas?
 
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Old 06-23-18, 07:08 PM
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Did you you use a digital multimeter? Did you measure with the lamp plugged in? Probably a loose connection. A digital meter may have too high an impedance to show voltage under load. You could try with an analog multimeter. They are more accurate due to lower impedance.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 06-23-18 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 06-23-18, 09:51 PM
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A digital multimeter, without load.
 
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Old 06-24-18, 05:47 AM
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A digital multimeter, without load.
So not an accurate measurement. Measure under load for more accuracy..
 
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Old 06-24-18, 12:18 PM
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Thank you! Under load there's no drop at all hot to neutral, and 119V neutral to ground. I guess that means a break in the neutral wire?

What I don't get is how the old deck lights could work from this line. The outlet is now connected right where the cable comes out of the ground. The entire run and the connection on the other end haven't been touched. Is it possible the lights used to be miswired hot to ground? How bad of a miswiring is that?
 
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Old 06-24-18, 12:42 PM
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119V neutral to ground. I guess that means a break in the neutral wire?
Correct, neutral and ground should have the same potential so there should be no voltage between them.

Is it possible the lights used to be miswired hot to ground?
Yes, or a ground is just touching a neutral somewhere.

How bad of a miswiring is that?
It needs to be fixed. Connecting a ground so it carries current can energize any grounded metal part on that circuit, or other circuits in the system. It is a shock and fire hazard.
 
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