kitchen ceiling light wiring feeding 40v when switched off 120v when on


OK. this is my first house and I am learning as I go. I have replaced all the lights in my home and have created a few new runs to some new lights/three way switched, etc. Now, I have a situation that is not covered by any book or any online resource I have found. After I installed the light in my kitchen (fluerencent), I noticed that when it was off, from time to time, it would blink. I admit, I just decided to ignore it and hope that it was the ballast and not the wiring. So after a year, the light died. I assumed the ballast finally let go, but for some reason this time, I decided to use a voltmeter and test the hot and neutral wires (the ground is going to the box since this particular box has no ground wires). When the switch is on(this is a normal 15 amp switch and is not a 3-way), the voltmeter reads 114V+- (which sounds good). I get 40V when the switch is off. This is the problem I assume. Now, in the ceiling box, there are a whole mess of wires (7 total -- 1 red and 6 painted white on two nuts). The red is what I'm using for the hot wire on the light. I used any of the whites for the neutral on the light. I dont know where to go from here....so I will really appreciate ideas you all have. I have been without a light for about a month while I question every person I know...without luck. Thanks!!!!!!
Chad
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Don't assume that the white are neutral. Especially if they are painted white and not white insulation. Either check for an actual neutral, or hire an electrician to fix the light. 40 volts when it is "off" definitely means it is not off.
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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You've got a problem... The 40v is probably coming from a neutral on another circuit; you have to find it. I would watch the voltmeter while turning on and off all the switches in your house. If that doesn't help, then do the same with the breakers. Hopefully you will find one switch and/or breaker gives it 114v and another gives it 40v. If not, you will have to start disconnecting wires until you isolate it. Good luck, you may need it. Sadly, if one circuit is screwed up, others may be. It would be prudent to go over everything thoroughly.
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No matter what your wires are.......if you throw the switch to the light and you get 40v still going to it........well then its the switch or neutral...you should have 0 Volts
1)With the switch thrown,go from the Hot to a known ground. If 40V, then the switch is defective.
2)Somewhere on the list of Nuetral wires tied together is the problem - Try throwing the switch..then with the meter go from the nuetral to a known ground, if 40V then the nuetral wiring is the problem. This is where the fun begins :-)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If you happen to be using a "solid state" voltmeter, educate yourself about "phantom voltages" created by capacitive coupling between energized conductors and floating conductors which are in close proximity to each other.
Until you understand that, and how to prevent it fooling you (such as by loading the circuit with a resistor) you'll be chasing your arse in a circle.
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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