Outlet issues....

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Matt2050

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I have a circuit that has 5 different outlet boxes on it, 2 work just fine 3 show both white and black as hot using a pen like voltage tester but when tested with a multimeter show 0 voltage. The two that work are connected through a junction box. A hot wire comes in and then the two other wires go to a corresponding outlet box. The three that don't, all have two wires in each box. I think that means I should have another outlet somewhere that would be the end of the line. I figured that there must another junction box that splits the initial live wire from breaker into the 3(maybe 4th) outlets line and the 2 outlets line. When I initially was trying to troubleshoot, I guessed that a neutral was wired wrong, but when there was no voltage on all of the wires that go into the outlets, I got stumped. I'm creating too many holes in the walls tracing wires and I'm getting to close to having to get behind a backsplash and a transom. That is going to get me into a lot of trouble. What would cause the 3 outlets to show hot with the pen voltage tester and then not have voltage?
 

Eddie_T

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It could be a neutral problem. I ran a test with an extension cord with only the hot side connected. At the end both sides showed voltage with a Ne2 detector due to stray pickup on the neutral. My no contact detector went crazy on either side of the cord.

When you used the multimeter were you measuring between the receptacle contacts or to a known ground? Also with breaker off at the panel you could do a continuity (ohms) check between a bad receptacle and a known good one by using an extension cord and measuring hot-to-hot and neutral-to-neutral and ground-to-ground (if a three wire cord). The meter should read close to zero ohms.
 
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JoeD

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Open the two receptacles that work and look for a loose white on the out feed to the dead ones. If any of the wires are in the back stab pushin connections move them to the screw terminals. Back stabs are a very common cause of the problem you are having.
 

geochurchi

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Hi, did this circuit ever work? why are you breaking holes in the wall? Start at the last working outlet and go from there.
 

ctviggen

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How much trouble do you want? If these are all on the same circuit, if you (turn off power) and pull each out so you can see the wiring, how many of them have only one set of wires going to them? If these are all daisy-chained together (wiring goes from breaker box to outlets1, then from outlets1 to outlets2, ...., from outlets 4 to outlets5), there should only be one of the outlets with one set of wires going to them. That's the end of the chain.

Then, disconnect all the hots and neutrals from the outlets. Turn back on the power and using a voltmeter, find which set of wires is "hot" (has power). There should only be one. Naturally, you have to be careful when doing this. Once you find that one, disconnect the power and connect those outlets to the set of wires you just tested had power and also to the next set (should go to one of the other outlets). Turn on the power. Using a voltmeter, find the next set of wires that hare hot (has power). Turn off the power, connect those outlets to the next set of wires (should go to the other set of outlets). Keep doing this until you find the issue.
 

afjes_2016

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Stop punching holes in the walls. Not needed at this point if at all.

Once you come back and let us know what the results are of some of the suggestions that we offered then we can take it further from there. Now we are just guessing and wasting time.
 

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