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Thread: reduced voltage at outlets, and ground test question

  1. #31
    DIY Senior Member mnalep's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    I have put in 4 new outlets, made sure they are all black wires to brass screws and white wires to silver screws, and that the bare ground wire on the green grounding screw.

    I thought I was doing good, but no success. I tried disconnecting at the middle of the circuit, and ended up at the first outlet.

    At that first outlet, with the rest of the circuit disconnected I put the 3 plug circuit tester in, the tester gave me 2 green lights, but the middle green light on the tester was very weak (2 green lights is supposed to be OK).

    With that tester still in the bottom slots of the outlet I plugged in a 4 watt light (a little candle light) into the upper slots - and the 4w bulb did not glow, and the tester changed to HOT/GROUND reversed (1 green and 1 orange light).

    SO, I'm thinking the problem has to either be in the wire from the fuse box to the first rececptacle, or at the fuse box?

    Is the tester actually telling me that the ground wire is now HOT? (I guess that would explain why the 4w bulb is not lighting, as it is on a 2 prong wire that is plugged into the hot and neutral slots of the outlet, and if the hot slot is not hot - because the ground wire is hot - then the bulb would not light?)

    I did notice yesterday that in the fuse box, the screw in receptacle for the base of the fuse was a little wobbly, although it got good and firm (no wobble at all) once the fuse was screwed in. This would not be causing the problem, would it?

    What would you test or look at next, to find the problem?

    I am thinking that next I should pull out the ceiling tiles and trace the wire back to the fuse box, and make sure that the wire from the fuse box to the first receptacle is intact. And if that wire is intact, then the next thing would be to open the fuse box and see if there is any problem in there?

    A few people said this could be an OPEN NEUTRAL also., but I'm not sure how to test to confirm OPEN NEUTRAL vs HOT/GROUND reveresed? If the ground wire is HOT, shouldn't I be able to put a test lamp on the ground wire and the steel receptacle box and see it light up?
    Last edited by mnalep; 11-25-2008 at 10:44 AM.

  2. #32
    DIY Junior Member Rowdy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    mnalep, You have done a lot of work on this circuit, you have isolated the problem to the point that an electrician come come in and fix it with minimal expense.

    They will have access to any parts that are needed, the knowledge to work in the panel etc.

    I feel it is time to make that call!

    Your mother may have a leak in her roof next year, would be nice if you were around to fix that for her

  3. #33
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008


    Post a schematic of what you think you have.

    Measure voltages & resistances with respect to a known good ground. It used to be you could use a cold water pipe for a ground, but now it's kind of iffy. If a lamp between the short slot and ground lights, it is a good ground and a good short slot.

    Any voltages measured should be done while the voltage is loaded down with an incandescent lamp.

    What makes this difficult is all the permutations and combinations involved with 3 wires and 3 terminals. And, that neutral and ground will read the same ohms to ground because they are connected at the panel.

    Wear face protection; shorts can spectacularly vaporize copper, or screwdriver tips, before the breaker has a chance to trip.

    The worst outcome is to be on the evening news.


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