No bathroom lights

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  #1  
Old 09-05-01, 04:06 PM
strigilio
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We recently had a power outage and when the power was restored, the lights and GFCI in the bathroom were inoperative. So I proceded to check the GFCI and the reset button was NOT tripped when I pushed it in. None of the switches were working as well.

Here is the setup I have in the batroom.

A 3 gang switch box with 3 single pole switches.
1 to operate an exhaust fan.
1 to operate a light in the fan.
1 to operate a wall light.
There is a single box, seperate stand alone GFCI in the wall next to the sink.

When I put a receptacle tester inside the GFCI, it was reading Hot/ground reverse. When I measured the voltage on the line side - hot and neutral it was 94 volts! The load side was reading 0 volts from hot and neutral. When measuring the line side hot to ground, it read 110 volts. This puzzeled me.

The feed voltage hot line to neutral into the switch box was reading 0 volts; however, was reading 110 volts when measured to ground. It seemed to me that there may be a open neutral somewhere?

I believe that the feed line comes into the GFCI first since when I remove it, there is no voltage readings at the switches at all. In the GFCI box there is 2 - 14/2 cables inside and that strange 94 volts (line side I guess) was measured with nothing connected to it. The other cable I assume was the load side since that had no voltage across it.

I checked the panel box for broken / loose connections and found none. There are other rooms branching from the bathroom circuit and they work just fine. I have replaced all three switches and GFCI for piece of mind since I was baffeled. That strangely worked for like a day. Then the same problem.

I conclude that the voltage measurements should be 110 volts to either neutral and ground since they are connected to the neutal bus. Since I was getting 110 volts to ground and 0 volts to neutral seems incorrect. There is probably a simple solution for this situation; however, I need some input - Thanks.

 
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  #2  
Old 09-05-01, 05:09 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
My first thought is that this is too weird to handle.

Don't get carried away with that 94 volts. You won't get far fretting about that. Treat it as if it read 110 volts.

The hot/ground reverse implies that your neutral is hot, or that you really have a hot/ground reverse (the latter doesn't seem too likely unless it was wired by a complete idiot). This indeed implies that an open neutral somewhere. You're going to have to examine everything on this circuit one box at a time, including the panel. Be careful not to make things worse.

When conducting any live tests, make sure that nothing is plugged in on this circuit, and that all wall switches are in the "off" position.

I can't explain that "it worked for a day" situation. I suggest you should replace that GFCI receptacle again.

Is this the only circuit in your house that you're having any trouble with? Compile a complete inventory of everything that's on this circuit.
 
  #3  
Old 09-07-01, 05:40 PM
strigilio
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Thanks for the reply. Yes this circuit is the only one I'm having trouble with. The other branch circuits on this same line strangely work fine since when the breaker is de-energized, the other parts of the circuit shut down. All the rest of the circuit is a den with a couple of ceiling fixtures and 2 receptacles with a switch. It makes sense that the neutral is hot in this case but that would seem like some blunder of a wiring job! The panel is wired correctly and I assume the bathroom is too. This bathroom also is an addition (previous owner) and God only knows how it was wired!
 
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