DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > DIY Home Improvement > Electrical and Wiring > Outlet gets voltage reading, but does not work




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Old 07-31-2010, 10:09 AM  
130munch
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Default Outlet gets voltage reading, but does not work

I have an outlet that stopped working. At the same time my front porch light also stopped working so I assumed they were connected to the same wires.

We tested both the light switch & the outlet & got good voltage readings on both - so power is coming through. But nothing works when plugged in & porch light still won't work & it's not a burnt out bulb.

Any ideas of what is going on? This is an older home, built in the 50's, so electrical wiring is original to the house.



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Old 07-31-2010, 10:20 AM  
CraigFL
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Sometimes the voltage is there but if any current flows the voltage drops to zero. This can happen with a loose, corroded or other type of bad connection. You should try to check the voltage with a load on it.



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Old 08-01-2010, 10:12 AM  
KellieDobbie
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The porch light and the wall outlet could not be connected to the same wires because lighting circuits should be separated from the wall outlet circuits. Is it just one outlet that stopped working? Several outlets are usually parallel-connected in a single circuit unless it's a dedicated outlet for high wattage equipments such as electric ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.

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Old 08-01-2010, 10:54 AM  
130munch
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This is an older home - built in the 50's. My handyman said it does appear that they are connected somehow, but he could not figure out what is going on & suggested I call an electrician because he thinks the lines may need to be rewired and that is not something he does. The outlet is not connected to anything else - this is the only outlet in the room not working properly.

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Old 08-03-2010, 05:07 PM  
JoeD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellieDobbie View Post
The porch light and the wall outlet could not be connected to the same wires because lighting circuits should be separated from the wall outlet circuits.
Not true most of the time. Lighting and receptacles are often on the same circuit.

Problem is an open or loose connection. You are probably using a digital meter. They will often give false readings when no load is applied.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:51 AM  
jsbeckton
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Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
Not true most of the time. Lighting and receptacles are often on the same circuit.

Problem is an open or loose connection. You are probably using a digital meter. They will often give false readings when no load is applied.
Are these false reading right in the 120V range and if so how is this possible? I have never had this happen to me.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:55 AM  
jsbeckton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 130munch View Post
I have an outlet that stopped working. At the same time my front porch light also stopped working so I assumed they were connected to the same wires.

We tested both the light switch & the outlet & got good voltage readings on both - so power is coming through.
When you say that you have good voltage do you mean ~120V between the hot and the ground or between the hot and the neutral?

If there is contact somewhere between a neutral and hot the neutral line will be at 120V as well. Then you could still get a 120V reading between the hot and the ground but obviously no voltage between the hot and the neutral which is what you need.
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:53 AM  
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Are these false reading right in the 120V range and if so how is this possible? I have never had this happen to me.
Correction, this is possible. Apparently the digital multimeter is subject to reading phantom voltages due to its high impedance.

Phantom voltage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maybe you should get a cheap analog meter to check.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:47 AM  
triple D
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Default try this dude....

I pull this trick once in a while at work when i'm stuck with the puke meter. Get an extension cord and take it to a good plug. Test hot to neut and to grnd should be the same both ways 118-125volts. Now go to your bad plug, while the cord is still plugged in to good one, land the red lead in the right (hot) side of cord end. Take the black one to left side of non working outlet. What is the voltage with the porch lite on and off. If either of these readings are different from above test than you have a lost neutral. Now for sh!#s and giggles touch the black probe to yourself, trust me you wont feel a thing, what does the voltage say using you as a ground? This will help other people understand how meters can give misleading results. Please post back and we can give you the next step!



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