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Old 10-03-2009, 08:32 PM   #1
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


I was testing my outlet in my house and all of them came out with about 125 V. However, my outlet that is located outside my house, about 20 feet away tested at 115 volts. Do I have a problem are is this normal since this outlet is located outdoors.

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Old 10-03-2009, 08:36 PM   #2
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


That's fine a little low but nothing to be worried about

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Old 10-03-2009, 08:49 PM   #3
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


120 V is the US standard, so you are right in the middle.

Voltage varies depending on how much of a load because of wire Resistance.

Outside or Inside does not make any difference.

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Old 10-03-2009, 08:56 PM   #4
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


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Originally Posted by stanlam View Post
outlet in my house
about 125 V.
outlet that is located outside my house, about 20 feet away tested at 115 volts.
To drop 10v across 20' of #14 Romex you'd need to pull 100A. I'd say you have a problem unless the voltage in the house measured 115v at the same time as you measured the outside voltage.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 10-03-2009 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:18 PM   #5
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


Are the outlets on opposite legs? Sounds like the neutral may not be tapped at exactly the center of the transformer (power company issue). I could be wrong though. Though think that difference may be fine. I'd be more concerned about the 125 then the 115, but even then lot of devices are rated for 125.
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:52 PM   #6
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


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To drop 10v across 20' of #14 Romex you'd need to pull 100A. I'd say you have a problem unless the voltage in the house measured 115v at the same time as you measured the outside voltage.
The wiring from the circuit breaker to the outlet is very old. At least 60 years old. Therefore, I don't even know if Romex was made back then. It's just two wires inside a metal pipe that runs underground from the circuit breaker to the outlet. I think the wire is more like 40 feet then 20 feet.

If you test the voltage directly from the circuit breaker that leads to this outlet, it reads 125 volts. I did this test not using any electricity at all, therefore during the test the electrical meter didn't move at all. It's just a drop of voltage with no amps being used.

Is there any test I can run to make sure this thing is safe. This outlet hasn't been used for at least 15 years. I want to use it now but I just want to make sure it's safe.

Last edited by stanlam; 10-03-2009 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:00 PM   #7
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


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Are the outlets on opposite legs? Sounds like the neutral may not be tapped at exactly the center of the transformer (power company issue). I could be wrong though. Though think that difference may be fine. I'd be more concerned about the 125 then the 115, but even then lot of devices are rated for 125.

The neural for this wiring goes directly to the fuse box neutral. The hot wire goes directly to the circuit breaker. The wire is actually more like 40 feet then 20 feet.

Last edited by stanlam; 10-03-2009 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:53 AM   #8
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


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Originally Posted by stanlam View Post
The wiring from the circuit breaker to the outlet is very old. At least 60 years old. Therefore, I don't even know if Romex was made back then. It's just two wires inside a metal pipe that runs underground from the circuit breaker to the outlet. I think the wire is more like 40 feet then 20 feet.

If you test the voltage directly from the circuit breaker that leads to this outlet, it reads 125 volts. I did this test not using any electricity at all, therefore during the test the electrical meter didn't move at all. It's just a drop of voltage with no amps being used.

Is there any test I can run to make sure this thing is safe. This outlet hasn't been used for at least 15 years. I want to use it now but I just want to make sure it's safe.
If the wire is in pipe/conduit and you suspect there is a problem, pull new wire and put in a new receptacle. I would pull a ground wire also. 50 feet of wire and a receptacle is probably 20-25$.
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Old 10-04-2009, 07:06 AM   #9
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


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....... At least 60 years old.
........, I don't even know if Romex was made back then.
It's just two wires inside a metal pipe that runs underground
Romex has been around since 1922 ( I'd love to see some of it)

You don't have Romex in that "metal pipe". That is most likely rigid conduit.
Which is similar to old fashioned threaded gas pipe.

With no current, there should be no voltage drop between the panel and the receptacle.

With wiring that old, I would not be asking if it is safe, I would replace it.

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Old 10-04-2009, 07:32 AM   #10
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


1. Make several measurements a few minutes apart, at the receptacle (outlet) in question and at several places in the panel including the breaker for this outdoor run. Just in case voltage to the entire house fluctuated between your measurements, and also in case you didn't make good contact in the receptacle that hasn't been used for a long time and might be a bit oxidized (rusty).

2. I would give the circuit a test with about 300 watts; more than one incandescent light fixture out there might do it. Near zero voltage change out there with the lamps on versus off means no problem. If you indeed measured a difference of 120 versus 115 volts at the panel versus at the receptacle with (essentially) no load, then the lamps would cause a tremendous voltage drop instantly giving away the existence of a problem.
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:05 AM   #11
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


I'd pull new wire & put in a new outlet
I'd also GFCI protect the wire before it goes outside
I use a GFCI outlet inside to protect my outside outlets
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:14 AM   #12
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


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I'd pull new wire & put in a new outlet
I'd also GFCI protect the wire before it goes outside
I use a GFCI outlet inside to protect my outside outlets
Yes.
Even it tests good today it may fail tomorrow. But make sure the problem is in the wire and not farther upstream.
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Old 10-04-2009, 10:38 AM   #13
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


It's definitely not ok. There are a number of reasons for voltage drop. You just have too much resistance. 5% drop max. 125 x .05 = 6.25. 125 - 6.25 = 118.75. Test the resistance. Know your Ohms.Long story short, do as some others have said, repull it. Pull 3 12awg THWN. Not THHN, white, green, black. You don't know what kind of shape the pipe is in. Turn off the breaker, disconnect the hot, remove the outlet outside, see how free the wires move. Tie on or fish tape it. Be careful, old pipe could cut the insulation. New GFCI outlet outside. Don't use GFCI breaker. Waterproof the housing.
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:10 AM   #14
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one outlet testing at 115 volts


Ensure all the connections for that circuit in the panel and at the outlet are clean and tight. If there a junction box or other connection between the panel and the outlet - if so, ensure they are clean and tight. The outlet should be a GFCI anyway, so just replace it. If after these actions the problem persists, run a new wire.

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