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AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
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one circuit in the house isnt working. On my DVM, I read

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one circuit in the house isn't working. On my DVM, I read 120V at the panel on the outlet of the circuit breaker. But at the outlets, I'm reading 120V from the ground to the hot leg, about 25V from the ground to the "neutral Leg", and only 96V across the hot and neutral, and nothing works when plugged into the outlets. All other circuits in the house are reading 120V across the hot and neutral. This one circuit has 3-4 lights, and about 6 outlets on it. I can't find any junction boxes that might have loose wires. I also tried using a different circuit breaker, but that didn't make a difference. Any ideas of what I should look for?

AssuredElectrical :

Welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX would be glad to assist.

AssuredElectrical :

Thanks for the readings you have done this far, very good and show what the problem is

Customer:

Hi Tommy. I put all the information that I know in the original request.

AssuredElectrical :

I have the info, thanks

AssuredElectrical :

What you have is a loose white neutral

AssuredElectrical :

Could be at the panel, or the first location that gets the power from the breaker

Customer:

That's kind of what I thought - it's a condo, and this circuit is for a weird combination of outlets and lights. I thought I looked into every outlet and light switch, but I'm going to have to keep looking for the junction that has the loose wire. All the wires in the panel are on tight, so it's going to have to be somewhere else.

AssuredElectrical :

Do you know everything on the total circuit, working or not?

AssuredElectrical :

Knowing is the key to finding the source of the loose connection.

Customer:

I believe I do, but nothing is working on the circuit at all - so I guess I need to find the "first" junction

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, if nothing is working at all, start at the panel

AssuredElectrical :

Trace the black from the breaker to find its matching white wire and then follow it to the neutral bar

AssuredElectrical :

Is there cables or conduit?

Customer:

I did that already, and made sure that the white wire was tightly secured to the neutral bus, which it is. In fact, all the white wires were secured tightly. It looks like I was the first one to take off the panel cover. It's 14-2 white romex (with a ground). The panel is flush mounted to the sheetrock, so I can't trace wires visibly

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, thats fine. You have eliminated the panel

AssuredElectrical :

Now, where is the panel located?

Customer:

it's on the first floor, in the 2nd bedroom. circuits that are involved are on the first and second floor

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, I would start at the closest item to the panel that is dead.

AssuredElectrical :

Now, you need to look into light boxes too, there are always junctions in them to spread the circuit in different directions.

AssuredElectrical :

You could have power into the light, one down to the switch and 2 more to other receptacles and lights. So it is an easy location for the break

AssuredElectrical :

In switches and lights, undo the white wires under the wire nuts to be sure there is good contact

AssuredElectrical :

sometimes they are barely touching and loose connection with heat and cooling of the circuit

Customer:

Thanks for the input. I never looked in the light boxes, and I didn't actually take the wire nuts off and check the contacts. I appreciate your help.

AssuredElectrical :

You are welcome. Yes, check all the white wire connections in any box. If you check the receptacles, try to move the wires to the screws if they are plugged into the back.

AssuredElectrical :

The ones that are plugged into the back of the receptacles will cause problems over time and well worth the labor to move them to the screws

Customer:

OK. I'll also try moving the wires to the screws. thanks for that idea as well.

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