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Old 05-09-2013, 09:55 PM   #1
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"Open Neutral"


Here's the situation I'm dealing with:
A string of low voltage landscape lights(wired, not solar) at my sister's house that are plugged (through a transformer) into an outdoor receptacle (not GFCI protected) are no longer working.

My sister is assuming it has something to do with the new light she asked me to install to replace a broken one. The new light is a different style and wattage from the others. It was working for a while after I changed it, then about a week later it was no longer working.

She then tells me that nothing she plugs into that receptacle works either. So I used receptacle tester and it tells me that there is an "open neutral". Thinking that it might just be a problem with the receptacle, I change it and tested it again. Same problem. I then test another receptacle that was also connected to the same breaker and it also gives me the same error.

I checked the connections in the panel and they were all good. I checked the voltage at the panel and it was fine (around 120v, typical residential voltage). I check it at the receptacle and I intermittently get around 40-60v. I want to trace the path of the wire (from plug to panel) to see if I can find the problem, but she won't let me until I can explain exactly why this is happening and how could it happen.

The original electrician used 14/3awg loomex for the plugs and I believe that it runs under the patio into the panel in the basement. The basement ceiling is closed up, so I can't see the wires.

Any suggestions, help,advice,etc. on this subject? Or maybe someone can tell me exactly what could cause this problem?

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Old 05-09-2013, 10:08 PM   #2
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"Open Neutral"


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Originally Posted by Mangyver View Post
My sister is assuming it has something to do with the new light she asked me to install to replace a broken one. The new light is a different style and wattage from the others. It was working for a while after I changed it, then about a week later it was no longer working.
Check here for the disconnected neutral.

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Old 05-09-2013, 11:35 PM   #3
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Check here for the disconnected neutral.
Not there since the lights go through a transformer which is then plugged into an outlet. The problem is somewhere within the wiring from the outlet to the panel, Since I was testing the outlet. The lights once unplugged are no longer part of the circuit, if I'm not mistaken.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:45 PM   #4
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"Open Neutral"


Oh I thought you were referring to a light fixture that you earlier replaced.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:35 AM   #5
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"Open Neutral"


Sounds like the problem lie's in the power feed to the recepticule.
Try measuring from the hot line of the faulty recepticule to
another neutral line, say from another near by recepticule.
this will indicate weather the problem lie's in the hot line
or the neutral line.
Also some testers will give eronius results if there is not
a good earth.
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:01 AM   #6
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"Open Neutral"


Look for a GFCI on that circuit first.

A bad GFCI receptacle can cause this, as they switch open the neutral as well as the hot during normal operation of the trip mechanism.

If it goes bad, it's possible that the neutral connection is lost, leaving the hot connected, but not the neutral.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:29 AM   #7
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the two events are not related and often this is hard to explain I always tell my clients it is like having a flat tire after you get an oil change . KB is pointing you in a good direction an outdoor receptacle should have GFI protection you need to find this. A garage GFI is a place to look although I have found them incorrectly use the bathroom GFI. Test and reset all GFIs and see if this changes the situation. Explain that a lost neutral can be at a device or even in a feed that has been damaged from setteling over time. We have a town called Rocky Mount so I tell people uf has a limited life span.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:04 AM   #8
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Since outlets are usually daisy-chained, the problem could be any outlet on the entire circuit. Pull 'em all, there's probably a bad backstab in one of them. Best way to be sure is to eliminate all backstabs everywhere on the circuit.
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:27 PM   #9
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Since outlets are usually daisy-chained, the problem could be any outlet on the entire circuit. Pull 'em all, there's probably a bad backstab in one of them. Best way to be sure is to eliminate all backstabs everywhere on the circuit.
There are only 2 outlets. I'll check them both.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:37 AM   #10
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Fixed it. It was the other plug. The GFCI breaker tripped and wasn't re-set properly. Everything works now. Thanks to all that responded. I appreciated the help and advice you gave.

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