Hot neutral off outlet

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  #1  
Old 12-03-19, 11:33 PM
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Hot neutral off outlet

Three GFCI outlets stopped working today in my kitchen. I tried pushing test/reset on all of them but the reset button wonít push. I measure 120 volts both on the black wire and the white wire relative to the ground on all three. Any idea what could be causing this and how to go about fixing this?
All three outlets worked fine until today. They are all about a year old. Thereís no sign of overheating or wear of any kind on the outlets or the wires. Thank you for your help.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-04-19, 12:15 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

GFI receptacles will not reset without hot and neutral present.
Can we assume these three GFI receptacles are on the same circuit ?
Is there anything else on that circuit ?

You've lost the neutral to that circuit.
If the wiring is ok on those three then it may come from another receptacle.
 
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Old 12-04-19, 05:07 AM
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Find the first GFCI from the breaker. After opening breaker, remove all wires (after labelling) except the 2 you measured the 120 vac on. Turn breaker on. If 120 vac on input and no 120 vac on output terminals (GFCI reset) the GFCI is at fault. Replace.
 
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Old 12-04-19, 09:30 PM
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Three GFCI outlets
Three actual GFCI receptacles or three GFCI protected receptacles ?
Big difference. I took this as three actual GFCI receptacles.
 
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Old 12-04-19, 09:44 PM
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The plot thickens...

Thank you good people for your time.
Here is an update. Those three outlets are on the same line together with my fridge and a fourth outlet. The fridge is working fine. I disconnected the white from the four outlets. With the white disconnected, it is still hot in the two outlets which are the farthest from the fridge. That white by the way is an old aluminum cable.
The two options that I can think of to explain this are:
1. The insulation somewhere inside the wall failed and the white is touching the black
2. There is somewhere another connection between those two outlets (one that Iím not finding) and the white touches the black there.
What confuses me even more is that the forth outlet (itís one of those with 2 regular and 2 usb receptacles) is bad. It used to work before this ordeal began but now with the white disconnected I measure 120vac on the whiteís screw. So Iím baffled by having 2 seemingly unrelated malfunctions in one circuit simultaneously.
Please guide me to the light.
Thank you again.
 
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Old 12-04-19, 09:54 PM
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Pete - those are 3 actual CGFI receptacles but now that they are disconnected and i'm still having a hot white I have to conclude that the problem lies elsewhere.
 
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Old 12-04-19, 11:10 PM
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Pj already gave the answer but I'll repeat. You have an open neutral. Not a short. Check the last working outlet (whether it's a receptacle or light) on the circuit and the first nonworking outlet. Very likely a loose connection in one of them.

Your mention of aluminum wiring is slightly disturbing since that's a known source of problems if not remediated. Though sometimes people mistake tinned copper for aluminum.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 03:59 AM
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A short in the cable wou,d trip the breaker. You have an open neutral.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 08:00 AM
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I donít understand

For the neutral to be hot it has to be in contact with the black wire somewhere. I fail to understand how the fact that itís open can be the cause of that. I realize I may be missing the obvious but I just donít understand. Besides, since I disconnected it at all the outlets I found in that circuit itís now open in multiple places. I need a newbie level explanation.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 09:31 AM
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For the neutral to be hot it has to be in contact with the black wire somewhere.

Not necessarily. Somewhere past where the neutral has been disconnected there is something plugged into a receptacle that is turned on. Since the neutral is disconnected, the 120 volts from the black wire is feeding through that device that is plugged in putting the 120 volts on the white wire after the point of disconnection. Reconnect the disconnected neutral and that 120 volts follows the neutral back to the panel.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 11:11 AM
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Well if I read his post correctly the fridge is still connected to this circuit.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 03:47 PM
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The white is still hot with the fridge disconnected. I'm not finding any other device that's connected on that circuit. I don't think the fridge would be working if the white coming through it would read 120vac.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 11:50 PM
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I discovered another receptacle on that circuit thatís between the two that have the hot white. This one is on the other side of the wall outside the house. I disconnected that receptacle to rule out the possibility that itís causing the problem. Nothing changed. Iím no finding any other device on that circuit.
 
  #14  
Old 12-06-19, 07:46 AM
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Put a load across where you are measuring and repeat the voltage measurement. One method is described below.

Where are you touching the meter probes so see the 120 volt reading off of the white wire.

Remember (or label) where you last touched the meter probes.

Get some wires with alligator clips on the ends. Radio Shack used to sell these.

Get a lamp fixture with an incandescent bulb.

Using the alligator clip wires connect one prong of the light fixture plug to each meter probe respectively.

Switch on the light.

Touch the meter probes to make the same measurement you last made.

What voltage do you get?

Does the light come on?
 
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Old 12-06-19, 10:24 PM
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I found and fixed the problem. I found a connection box behind the cabinet next to my fridge where aluminum and copper wires were bundled together in standard wire connector. That connector was burnt and there was my open white. I replaced the standard connectors with special connectors made for that, that I picked at Home Depot for an outrageous $8 a pair. Anyway, everything works now and Iím very happy. I still donít know why the white was hot.
Thank you all for the directions. You were all right. Just finding that box was challenging.
 
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Old 12-07-19, 05:52 AM
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Allenís suggestion for using a test lamp is spot on. ďHotĒ is not measured by sensitive voltmeters. You would be miles ahead by using a 15 watt incandescent with a pigtail holder.
 
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Old Today, 10:14 AM
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I replaced the standard connectors with special connectors made for that, that I picked at Home Depot for an outrageous $8 a pair.

AlumiConn connectors? If what they sold you were the purple wire nuts from Ideal you just kicked your problem down the road.
 
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