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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm trying to wire up a half switched outlet. To the left of the switch is the outlet I'd like to make half switched and to the right is a regular outlet that's always on. In the switch box is 2 wires coming from the always on outlet, 2 wires going to the half switched outlet, and 3 wires (red/black/white) going to something... it doesn't control anything I can find. I traced all the wires with a 9v battery to make sure I identified them right, and hooked everything up, and here's what I'm getting in the switch box:

77 volts from the always hot outlet's hot wire
22 volts from the always hot outlet's neutral
22 volts from the black wire going to whatever

I understand all those voltages together give me the 120 I need, but is it safe to connect them all together? How about if I disconnect the neutral from the always hot outlet and cap it (it has 2 neutral wires)?

It's an extreme pain to get to the part of the attic where I'm guessing everything is connected, to the point where I'd hire someone else to do it.
 

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You are getting what is classified as "Phantom Voltages". No, what you should do is either hire an electrician that will do the job, since you do not understand the scope of the work, or pick up something like the Black & Decker "Complete Home Wiring guide", so you understand how to properly wire a circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I understand that it's not a real reading. The issue is the 70 volts is definitely real and is showing at the switched outlet also. A lamp plugged in doesn't turn on.
 

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You have 70 volts.....to what?...to ground, to the neutral? What two points are giving you 70 volts? Find an analog meter to do your testing...better yet, hire someone with a better understanding of how electricity works.
 

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The fact that the lamp does not light when connected to your 70V source further implies what Greg is saying. If you were reading 70V with your high-Z meter connected and then connect the lamp (light bulb, toaster oven, can opener), you'll probably see the voltage go to zero. Solenoid testers (i.e. Wiggies) are good for determining the existence of real voltage since they represent a low-Z measurement device.

This sounds like a classic case of open-circuit wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The outlet tested 70v to ground only. Therefore, I have an open neutral. What I'm guessing is the outlet was originally wired in series to another outlet, and those connections have since been terminated.
 

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Regardless, no voltage on the circuit, means no voltage. If wired in Series, you would have zero volts, not 70. You need a better meter, or understand how a circuit works.
 

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Measure the voltage across the hot ane neutral of the receptacle at the same time a light is plugged in and turned on.

What do you get?

You need to find out what the red/white/black wires go to before continuing with the project.
 
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