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Old 06-11-2012, 02:22 PM   #1
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Breaker off, voltage present


I am doing a room remodel(removing a wall). I am anticipating rewiring the entire room. I turned the breaker off to the room. I verified no voltage present at an outlet and used a noncontact probe to verify no voltage present before I touched the wires. I removed the light switch from the wall. There were four liness of Romex in the box.

I unscrewed the wire nut on the neutral and started separating the wires and got shocked. I measured the voltage between hot and neutral(one of the four) with a fluke meter on the AC range and found 103V. I separated the wires and traced the one with the voltage to an outlet in the room were I also measured 103V. Wondering if everything was OK in the house I checked the two legs and found them to be at 117V and 123V.

I reconnected the neutrals and voltage in the room outlet dropped back to 0V. I own a tracer and intend on chasing the wires end to end to look for anomalies. Any ideas what I should look for?

This is in a 30 year old house that has had extensive remodeling.

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Old 06-11-2012, 02:27 PM   #2
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Breaker off, voltage present


First thought, multi wire branch circuit.

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Old 06-12-2012, 03:54 PM   #3
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Breaker off, voltage present


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Originally Posted by alanand View Post
found them to be at 117V and 123V.
(123 - 117)/2 = 3v is kind of high for a neutral connection if you measured it at the panel. It should probably be dozens of millivolts.
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:02 PM   #4
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Breaker off, voltage present


Thanks, Code05. That was not the quite the problem but it led me to finding it.

I checked for the multiwire branch circuit. I found there is only one in the panel and that went to the disposal & dishwasher. I was fortuate that the room breaker wire exited the panel in the front of a large bundle so I knew for certain it was one circuit. This gave me that an effective multiwire branch circuit was created.

I bought the house from a general contractor who had extensively remodeld the down stairs. I looked for a box close to the room I was working that had that had live and dead(because I had the breaker off) circuits. I found that a ceiling fan in the adjacent room was brought and tied in to the switch box that controlled a light in the room where I was working. The neutrals were tied together in that switch box. This tied together the neutrals from two different circuits(breakers). I separated the neutrals and the voltage went away on my circuit with the breaker off.

I will have to find a new(proper) power source for the ceiling fan.

When I checked the voltages between the two legs. It was not at the panel but close to the panel. When I check in the panel on another day I found 120V and 121V

Last edited by alanand; 06-14-2012 at 04:31 PM. Reason: corrected grammer for clarity
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:08 PM   #5
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Breaker off, voltage present


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Originally Posted by alanand View Post
Thanks, Code05. That was not the quite the problem but it led me to finding it.

I checked for the multiwire branch circuit. I found there is only one in the panel and that went to the disposal & dishwasher. I was fortuate that the room breaker wire exited the panel in the front of a large bundle so I knew for certain it was one circuit. This gave me that an effective multiwire branch circuit was created.

I bought the house from a general contractor who had extensively remodeld the down stairs. I looked for a box close to the room I was working that had that had live and dead(because I had the breaker off) circuits. I found that a ceiling fan in the adjacent room was brought and tied in to the switch box that controlled a light in the room where I was working. The neutrals were tied together in that switch box. This tied together the neutrals from two different circuits(breakers). I separated the neutrals and the voltage went away on my circuit with the breaker off.

I will have to find source for the ceiling fan.

When I checked the voltages between the two legs. It was not at the panel but close to the panel. When I check in the panel on another day I found 120V and 121V
That's a violation because now you have paralleled neutrals... No good..
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