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Old 05-07-2012, 11:50 AM   #1
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Continuity between 2 neutrals at breaker


I'm replacing my kitchen GFCIs with 2 GFCI breakers (moving receptacles into plugmold mounted uner the cabinets, part of renovation) and figured out that 1 of the kitchen receptacle circuits has its neutral tied to a neutral in the dining/living room receptacle circuit. Both circuits have independent phase and neutral wires coming into the box and are on separate 20A breakers on the same bus, but when I shut everything off and pull the neutrals off the bus I still get continuity between the neutrals.

In a previous post I got plenty of suggestions that this wasn't going to work with the GFCI. I've been tracing through the circuit trying to find where the neutrals are tied together but the wiring in the attic is pure chaos and the wires from multiple circuits are in the same J-boxes and dropped through the same holes in the wall.

I'm sure this is all OK, but just very cumbersome to diagnose. I'm curious about what methods you use to trace a problem like this. Do you have to just run up and down the ladder all day? Thanks for any suggestions, or pointers to other threads.

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Old 05-07-2012, 12:04 PM   #2
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Continuity between 2 neutrals at breaker


http://www.harborfreight.com/cable-tracker-94181.html

This works very well but you don't want to connect it anything that is live. It will easily detect though the side of cable but conduit will block it.

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Old 05-07-2012, 12:32 PM   #3
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Continuity between 2 neutrals at breaker


Glad to add a tool to the chest, Thanks Bill01. I think I'll remove the neutrals from the bus and then get up in the attic and start pulling twisted neutrals apart until continuity is broken. This kind of tool should help me narrow down the wires to start with. Do you think I could attach the clips to each neutral at the breaker box and then just search for a tone where the 2 neutrals are tied together? If I'm lucky I might be able to pass the wand over each j-box and find a tone quickly.

Last edited by Fpbaum; 05-07-2012 at 12:33 PM. Reason: mispelled want-->wand
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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Continuity between 2 neutrals at breaker


That's the idea. It should put tone on every wire that's tied into the ones you put the clips on.
Only problem is its a cheap tool and I have no idea how sensitive the wand receiver is... It should work but it might be frustrating if the tone is not detected.
Big orange has a fluke tone and test probe (for a lot more money) that I have had pretty good luck with over long runs and cross connected data cable.
The idea is sound. You'd think it would be very straight forward. And sometimes it actually is.
Keep plugging away at it!
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
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Continuity between 2 neutrals at breaker


You will likely get continuity through all of the neutrals because of grounding. Any fixture which is grounded is inherently connected to the neutral. This may not be the case in sub panels since the neutrals and grounds are "supposed" to be isolated.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:47 PM   #6
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Continuity between 2 neutrals at breaker


Missouri bound, I'm disconnecting neutrals from the bus before testing so I don't think I *should* get continuity. Plus after disconnecting the first neutral it still had continuity to ground but didn't after pulling the second neutral, while there was still continuity between the two neutrals so the diagnosis seems clear.

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