low voltage at two outlets

Since I got such great help on my last problem...
This is actually for my neighbor. Since his house was built by the same people, I gave him a heads-up about the backstabbed outlets. Turns out he said his one bathroom and a patio outlet are only reading 70 volts. He doesn't know if they're on the same circuit or not. Any thoughts? Thanks again!
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connection going bad somwhere. id be looking for a bad wirenut connection, sometimes a crimp corroeded and or loose screws on outlet. should check voltage at breaker first, pull out devices in question get reading directly from wires. darn those backstabbed outlets!!
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wrote:

Thanks. I'll see if he checked at the wires behind the outlets. Is it tough to test at the breaker? Does all the power to the breaker/house have to be dealt with to do so. I've got a Stanley book on wiring from HD I'll check tonight, too, but if it's a simple answer, feel free. I'm definitely not going to guess or wing it! Thanks.
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albee wrote:

70 volts: seems unlikely. I might first suspect his meter or measurement technique. If he has a modern high impedance meter, I might then suspect a connection (either to the meter, or in the outlet) that is not quite there and he is getting capacitive coupling. Try it with a load (such as a lamp) on the outlet.
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wrote:

He's getting 120 at his other outlets, so appears his device/technique isn't at issue. By try it with a load, do you mean simply see if the appliance works, or is there a way to test the power with a multimeter while under load? Thanks.
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albee wrote:

Not necessarily. If a circuit is complete and one measures the voltage 120V would be expected whether the meter is high or low-impedance. One would also expect a lamp plugged into it to be at full brightness. If a circuit is incomplete (an open conductor somewhere) one would expect a high-impedance meter to read something more than 0V but less than 120V. A low-impedance meter would read 0V or very close to it and a lamp plugged into it would not light. I would far rather depend on the lamp test than on a high-impedance meter in the hands of an amateur. Oh, and it is quite easy to test under load by simply connecting the meter in parallel with the load.
One interesting test would be to plug a known-good lamp into the top half of one of these low-voltage outlets to see if it works. Then into the bottom half. If the lamp doesn't light in either case I would look around the room for a switch near the entrance which doesn't seem to have any other function and flip it to the other position. Then try the lamp test again. You'd be surprised how many people have outlets in their homes which are switch operated, either in part or in whole, and don't realize it.
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John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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Have him check for tripped GFCI devices, which depending upon when the house was built could be located in another bathroom, a garage, or outside

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On Tue, 21 Aug 2007 21:21:24 -0400, "RBM" <rbm2(remove

faulty outlets, fwiw. Tomorrow I'll have him check other locations for tripped ones, but what's happening that they would cause the low voltage at the ones in question?

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The low voltage situation is questionable, not knowing how he's testing the circuit. A house built in 88' would have required GFCI protection for a bathroom outlet, and to wire this economically, (cheap) the electrician could have installed a GFCI outlet in another required location, such as garage and outside, and fed these outlets off its load side

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There is only one way he could actually be getting 70v at an outlet. The outlet is on a multiwire circuit that has lost its neutral; so one side is seeing 70v and the other side is seeing 170v. Very dangerous situation; also rather unlikely.
The other posibility is that you have an open circuit and the meter is showing a false reading. Does a lamp work in the outlets? If it does, turn it on at one outlet and measure the voltage at both that outlet and the other bad one.
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none. Now, fwiw, he says that when he put up a light fixture, he drilled into the wall (awhile ago) and must've hit a wire, because he got a short. But he continued on and hooked it up, and that light works fine. So don't know if that helps diagnose this at all, though I'm sure you guys will recommend checking behind the wall where he drilled. He just doesn't want to have to do that, though.
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Now isn't that really dumb? Any one with an IQ larger than his shoe size would want to fix the problem. If he is in denial about other problems he should see a shrink for help. How sad.
Joe
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and repair drywall if it weren't necessary. I'm sure he'll do it if it is, but since his light's been working, he's not sure that's what the problem is. Any thoughts what's going on with the outlets? Thanks again.
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