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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
House built 1968.

I noticed that many receptacles were quite loose in the walls, and decided to have a look. There are more surprises: almost every receptacle has one of the neutral terminal screws loosened almost completely so that it nearly touches the side of the metal box. In one box, the ground wire is attached to the neutral terminal.
After I “corrected” these issues, I used a receptacle tester, which indicated there was a floating neutral. The lights and receptacles on that circuit no longer worked. My search for a broken wire ended at the main service panel. See attached photos.
Questions:


  1. Does any of this seem like “common” practice from 50 years ago? [The wiring and receptacles appear original].
  2. What is a proper reapir for the cut wire in the panel?

I will likely get an electrician to make the repairs, but wanted a sanity check on what to expect - I’ve seen lots of short-cuts. An electrician was in the panel a few years ago to hook up a transfer switch, and neither he nor the inspector noticed the cut wire.





 

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Someone did a hack fix for a bad neutral. They connected the ground to be used a neutral. This is dangerous. You need to find the source of the open neutral repair it.
It could be that cut neutral in the panel or maybe they cut it because there is problem in that cable elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
... find the source of the open neutral ...
I left that circuit OFF.

The first receptacle in the circuit has a floating neutral and good connections, so I guess that means the break is in the wire from the panel to there?

Should I try to measure continuity from the cut wire in the panel (main power off) to the first receptacle's neutral, or is there a better way, without specialized tools?

I've been using a long extension cord plugged into the (dead circuit) receptacle for my continuity test equipment.


Re: hack
Not to mention the ground wire is all 16 AWG


The most logical explanation seems to be that there is another break in that wire behind a wall, and thus the substitution of ground for neutral.
 

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Do you have a lot of conduit (EMT) in your house? The grey wire bundle looks like THHN neutral wires. If you live in a district requiring conduit then the NM/Romex isn’t allowed. Hard to tell from the photo.






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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
... I guess that means the break is in the wire from the panel to there?
CORRECTION: That logic is flawed since I already know there is a cut neutral wire in the panel. If testing on a live circuit, I would need to re-connect that cut wire in the panel if using a receptacle tester.

But, since I prefer dead circuits, I physically checked the wires in the other boxes. So far, I found one switch box with a corroded common wire that snapped on the stripped end when I moved it.

I'm sure there are even more surprises within the walls ...
 
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