electrical problem: voltage reading between hot, neutral, ground

Hi all, One of my wall receptacles suddenly stopped working this morning. I tested the bad one with voltmeter and found out that there were 120 VAC between hot and ground, 0 VAC between hot and neutral, and 120 VAC between neutral and ground. I live in North America and the normal reading between hot and neutral should be 120 VAC. I removed the receptacle and tested again on the wires directly and got the same result. I also tested other receptacles connecting to the same breaker but they were working. Worring there might be a short circuit, I shut off the breaker and call the electrician.
Does anyone have the same problem like this before? Did the neutral wire become hot, or did the hot and ground got reversed?
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Thanks for the input. I got the same result with the receptacle removed (still no reading between hot and neutral, 120 VAC between neutral and ground) so I'm guessing the receptacle is ok, but the wiring is having a problem. The receptacle also feeds another 2 receptacles. Needless to say, they aren't working either. Other than backtracing the line and checking each connection, where else should I look? Is there any way to narrow down where to inspect? Thanks.
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the other poster means that the link on a receptacle in the line feeding the one tha isn't working could be bad. Check both parts (both outlets) of the the other receptalces that are one the same breaker.
Mark
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Assuming the wiring was correct to start with, you have an open neutral wire. The 120 volts you are getting from the neutral to the ground is probably some load feeding back . I have seen recepticals that have a bar between the two screws on one side burn into. This can open up either the neutral or the hot wire depending on the one that burns into.
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I'd start at the working receptacle just before the bad one. Check the connections in that box. The neutral leaving the good receptacle and going to the bad receptacle may have broke free and contacted the hot. 0 volts between hot and neutral tells me they are touching somewhere(both hot and neutral are at the same 120 volt potential therefore 0 volt reading) AND the neutral is open. Otherwise you should have tripped the breaker.

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From this, it soudns like you have an open neutral. The voltage in the neutral is because some appliance is plugged in and turned on.
Remdnds me I had a surprise one time when I was workign on a circuit panel. I'd taken the white wire off, to reroute it in the panel. I touched the bare tip of the white, and got a tingle. Huh? Well, I was getting power through the breaker and through an appliance.
There is a simple answer, that might very well solve the problem. You didn't ask, and so I won't say.
--

Christopher A. Young
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Two things to check. First, if you're comfortable working in circuit panels. Make sure all the neutrals and grounds are securely screwed down.
Second, pull all the "dead" outlets and make sure the white wires are screwed to the side, not "stabbed in" to the back.
--

Christopher A. Young
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Without killing the breaker? NOT SMART.

Well, DUH!
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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