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renshai 11-19-2009 08:37 PM

outlet issue
I have four outlets serviced by a single breaker, and the voltage from hot to neutral at each outlet measures nothing. From neutral to ground measure 121V, and from hot to ground measures 80V. Replaced the breaker to be sure, with no effect on the problem. Any ideas?

Bob Mariani 11-19-2009 08:57 PM

your polarity is reversed probably at one of the outlets.

kbsparky 11-19-2009 08:58 PM

You might have a bad neutral connection somewhere. If all the outlets are inoperative, then check the neutral connection inside of the panel. Otherwise, at the first outlet.

If both connections are deemed to be acceptable, then you could have a bad piece of wire (I've seen this happen more than once) from the panel to the first outlet.

Bob Mariani 11-19-2009 09:07 PM

just curious... how does a bad neutral (not connected or broken) give a neutral 120V to ground?

kbsparky 11-19-2009 09:17 PM

A bad neutral wire will test out as "hot" due to the loads backfeeding on it. If one can manage to disconnect everything on the circuit, it won't test as hot. But, there still might be some trace (phantom) inductive voltage to read depending on the impedance of the test equipment.

But on reading the original post again (read thru it too fast the first time around), there is a bad voltage reading from hot to ground.

Soooooo .... let's start over: Plug in a lamp, appliance, or other significant load, and take measurements again. Report back here with the findings.

renshai 11-19-2009 09:56 PM

Outlet Issue
Thanks all, I will check tomorrow and report back.

Bob Mariani 11-20-2009 04:21 AM

you see what I mean. Even a missing neutral will never get you the full 120V as posted, but he also was getting 80V on the hot, which I think could be from the condition you are talking about. This is why I feel that the issue may be both. Reversed polarity and a lost connection after some properly connected load. These issues cannot be addressed online. The OP needs an electrician to troubleshoot this on site.

renshai 11-20-2009 05:35 AM

Outlet Issue
Fortunately, I am retired US Navy radar technician (Chief Firecontrolman), and previously owned a small construction company, so me and my Fluke 77 will start troubleshooting. All the advice on this thread is invaluable, btw. Looking forward to resolution!

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