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jimmycolorado 10-30-2007 04:13 PM

Dead outlet and lights on live circuit
Hey there, I have two ceiling lights and an outlet that aren't working. Everything else on the same circuit are working fine. There's a GFCI outlet and a switch with a light and ceiling fan, also the light in hallway. I replaced the GFCI outlet, thinking that was just faulty, but no change. With the outlet removed, I turned the circuit back on and tested the voltage, here's what I got:
Both light switches off:
white to gnd: 10V
black to gnd: 119.5V
white to black: 106.5V

bathroom and/or hallway switch on (no light though):
white to gnd: 119.5V
black to gnd: 119.5V white to black: 0V

I took out all the bulbs and only noticed a difference when the hall switch was on, but not the bathroom (probably because there's only the 1 bulb on the hall switch, but the fan is on the bathroom light switch.)
white to gnd: 15V
black to gnd: 119.5V
white to black: 101.6V

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

NateHanson 10-30-2007 04:16 PM

I think you have an open neutral. If the neutral were properly wired back to the panel, hot-neutral would always be ~120, and grd-neutral would always be zero. If the neutral is disconnected, you'll get "phantom" voltage readings on that white wire. If you know the order that the boxes are connected in that circuit, check the neutral connections in the last working box, and the first not-working box.

Andy in ATL 10-30-2007 05:29 PM

First, unplug everything from this circuit. Now it's time to start hunting. With the circuit off, pull everything out of the wall and check connections. The problem could be in a recp., Faulty backstab maybe??? The problem could be in a switch, Loose neutral wire under a wire nut. Patience is the key. Something is wrong, now you just have to find it. Let us know if you have more questions or if you fix it, what the problem is.

joed 10-30-2007 06:41 PM

Faulty neutral. Check all devices on the circuit, even the working ones. If you have receptacles with the wires pushed into the holes in the back then move them to the screws. Back stab pushin connections are a common source of this problem.

If you know the routing of the circuit the problem is in the last working device or the first not working device.

jimmycolorado 11-12-2007 05:47 PM

Thanks guys. I found the culprit. The outlet behind a book shelf in the room next door had a blown neutral wire. All the insullation was burnt off, and the neutral wire connected to the outlet was all black, and curled up at the end. A bit scary. The cable running from there into the bathroom barely reaches the outlet box. That whole wire will probably need to be replaced. My question now is should I try to replace the wire, or just let the landlord come with an electrician? Probably safest for them to do it, especially since I'm not paying for it anyways.

Thanks again!


joed 11-12-2007 05:55 PM

Let the landlord come with an electrician. You do do not want this to come back at you if something goes wrong in the future.

Andy in ATL 11-12-2007 06:02 PM

Well golly JimmyColorado, Congrats!

If you had stated you were renting in the first post, we'd of said bring in the pro. As Joed said, it is never wise to do electrical work in a rental.:no: Bet it felt good when you found the problem, though, didn't it?:yes: :thumbup:

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