Did you have the neutral disconnected when you touched it? That might
explain how there could be enough voltage to feel. If the neutral was
grounded, maybe the conductor the other probe touched had voltage.
If the meter registered only momentarily, that sounds like a DC charge.
A spike of more than 100VDC might show only a couple of volts on a
DMM set for AC or DC.
In the furnace, I suppose the voltage could come from a capacitor
charged through a diode. Maybe the source was instead static generated
by air flow in the furnace.
the neutral is the TOP wire of the old style 3 wire overhead lines.
Put on the top to help dissipate lightning and high voltage if a high
voltage line from above breaks and falls on it.
properly grrounded at each service touching a neutral shouldnt kill
you, although you might feel a little tickle
IMO working with neutrals is far more dangerous than working with hot
leads. For these reasons:
Hot leads are logical, they terminate at specific devices and they
have specific breakers that you can trun off, they are easily
identified. To put your body in series with a hot requires that you
hold the hot and a neutral or ground, very obvious, breakers are
specific also very obvious.
Neutrals on the other hand travel througout the house, they are
frequently bundled across multiple live branches. When you undo a
neutral bundle in a box and you have shut off the breaker you think is
correct. That neutral may still be carrying a load on a different
breaker. When you undo the bundle then happen to grab two neutrals
you could very easily put your body in series with a load carrier.
Instant death if you gripped them hard.
I have gotten more inadvertent shocks and sparks from neutrals than
hots over the years by undoing bundles to get in another neutral in
the wire cap, then discovering that I opened a live crcuit on a
different branch where I did not trip the breaker.
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