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Discussion Starter #1
A while back I had posted a note about an outlet in my basement failing. The outlet was working fine one day when I had my saw plugged into it, and then stopped randomly. I changed the outlet and it didn't work and for months. Then, one day, I thought I figured it out - one outlet had a small break in the wire where it meets the outlet (I must have cut to deep). Re-cut the wire, and all seemed to be well. Then, a couple months later it stopped working again - no rhyme or reason. About 3 months later the Electric Co. was at our house and had to shut off all the power, and it started working again. Fast forward a few months - shockingly - it's not working again. No electrical changes have been made, and I checked every socket I can find related to the outlet.

Here's what I know - when I read it with a meter it gives a very very faint Voltage reading (barely moving the needle). When I test Hot + Ground, I get the right Voltage. That means there must be an Open Connection, right?

My question is where and why? The outlet seems to go in/out of working intermittently, so my only two thoughts are that it's a) connected to a switch in the house somewhere or b) that there's an open wire outside that (when wet) is affecting this??

I honestly don't know and I would like to figure it out. I just don't know how to track down where the voltage is going awry.

Any and all help is welcome
Mike
 

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retired framer
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A while back I had posted a note about an outlet in my basement failing. The outlet was working fine one day when I had my saw plugged into it, and then stopped randomly. I changed the outlet and it didn't work and for months. Then, one day, I thought I figured it out - one outlet had a small break in the wire where it meets the outlet (I must have cut to deep). Re-cut the wire, and all seemed to be well. Then, a couple months later it stopped working again - no rhyme or reason. About 3 months later the Electric Co. was at our house and had to shut off all the power, and it started working again. Fast forward a few months - shockingly - it's not working again. No electrical changes have been made, and I checked every socket I can find related to the outlet.

Here's what I know - when I read it with a meter it gives a very very faint Voltage reading (barely moving the needle). When I test Hot + Ground, I get the right Voltage. That means there must be an Open Connection, right?

My question is where and why? The outlet seems to go in/out of working intermittently, so my only two thoughts are that it's a) connected to a switch in the house somewhere or b) that there's an open wire outside that (when wet) is affecting this??

I honestly don't know and I would like to figure it out. I just don't know how to track down where the voltage is going awry.

Any and all help is welcome
Mike
You have an open neutral (White). If the wires are stabbed in the back of the outlet move them to the screws.
As you have power there, you can find which breaker to turn off and hunt the house for anything that also goes off with that breaker and check connections in all those boxes.
 

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Just some clarification needed. Is this the only receptacle or light on the circuit that is affected?

When you checked every socket (receptacle?) did you change any back-stabbed connections and put them under the corresponding screws?

No voltage hot to neutral but full voltage hot to ground, typically means an open neutral. Are there lights on this circuit? You may need to open the connection at those fixtures and check for an open or loose connection.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Neal / Dave - thanks for both of your comments. I will make one last round of checks on the boxes (they were outlets, not lights I was mentioning).

I'm just continually baffled as to how it worked one day, then stopped almost in hours. It's why I keep coming back to it either being a light switch or outside (open wires) issues - in my mind.

I'm definitely not an electrician, but it's weird how it can be working one min, and then just suddenly stop.
 

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You apparently have an intermittent connection, which are very difficult to find by testing. Visual inspection is your easiest method at this point. Don't be afraid to redo ANY suspect connection.

If the problem was outside (assuming you mean the feed for the house), you would have problems with more than one receptacle in the basement.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hey Dave -

That's a good idea. I'll grab all the lamps, radios, etc. in the house and try to determine what, if any, sockets/lights are on this breaker. Since the basement is finished, it's making tracing the wires difficult.

What I meant (and I should have been clearer) about it being outside is - I know there were lines in the yard for sprinkler systems, I wonder if I cut one and it's "open" in the dirt. I dont know though.
 

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retired framer
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Hey Dave -

That's a good idea. I'll grab all the lamps, radios, etc. in the house and try to determine what, if any, sockets/lights are on this breaker. Since the basement is finished, it's making tracing the wires difficult.

What I meant (and I should have been clearer) about it being outside is - I know there were lines in the yard for sprinkler systems, I wonder if I cut one and it's "open" in the dirt. I dont know though.
No one would take power outside and then back in to an outlet.

As you have power there, you would not have if it was just a switch turned off, so it is a connection somewhere at this box or the last box before this one. Or a nail or screw into the cable some where between.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, that's actually re-assuring. At least I know it's contained within the walls of the house somewhere. I can track that down. Outside would have been difficult to say the least.
 

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I just read through your previous 3 or 4 threads on this problem.

One possiblity is the outlet which you said was buried. I hope you meant behind boxes or furniture.

However you also mention that when you extended the incoming feed for this receptacle, you did the splice in a ceiling fan box so the splice wouldn't be flopping loose in the drywall. You said you hoped the problem wasn't there because you would have to repair drywall.

I sense there is drywall repair in your future.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Somehow, I do too...again.

However, the problem did exist before I extended it. Then, the outlet was working fine after I fixed it. And then - outta no where stopped.

I was able to find all the outlets that are controlled by that outlet - two of them are originals (1966 era). I'm going to replace them and see if anything comes of those.

There's one outlet, not on that breaker, which has an issue. When I tested it to see if it was still live (after I shut off the breaker) it blew the light bulb. I've known that one has been an issue for some time. I'm not sure what is wrong, but i'm going to fix it regardless
 
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