Voltage when Switch is Off

I just replaced a 3-way switch, and when I was testing, I noticed that there was 30 volts (Radio Shack analog meter) at the light socket when the switches were off. I tried using one of the little idiot lights that glow with voltage, and indeed, it glowed weakly. The light and the 2 3-way switches work perfectly though. This circuit is fed by old knob and tube wiring. Should I worry that something nasty is going on?
Thanks, Michael
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

An analog meter even though not as sensitive as digital/electronic one, might pick up such an induced voltage. Such a meter with a fairly typical one milliamp full scale deflection, on its 30 volt scale will have a resistance of 30,000 ohms. On a 100 volt scale perhaps 100,000 ohms. No experience with K and T wiring but those wires tend to be seaparated; not twisted or close together as with modern wiring. Would that not make induction from an adajcent live wire more likely? You could put a bulb in series with the feed wire from the fuse, leaving the bulb out of the fixture, just to make sure there is no current leaking through?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Me, I'd check your load bearing neutral. [Could be floating - causing you slight voltage reading.]
--
Zyp

"terry" < snipped-for-privacy@nf.sympatico.ca> wrote in message
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
thanks.. what do you mean by a floating load bearing neutral?
Michael
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You could have a shared neutral. I have one in my house and I have to turn off the breakers for both circuits to avoid a situation like you describe. The breakers should in fact be ganged. (It's on my list!)
See this site: http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/twocircuit.htm
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
DerbyDad03 wrote:

C'mon, 30 VOLTS due to a shared neutral?
That would take more than just a "shared" neutral, it'd take a very poorly connected or high resistance neutral, in which case it's unlikely that as the OP said, the light and the switches work perfectly.
More likely slight resistive or capacitive leakage currents tweaking the test meter, as several others have said already.
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Since it takes at least about 50 volts AC to light a neon lamp, and even more for the NE-2H, A1C and similar ones in testers but the meter reads only 30 volts, what you have is a situation with low, highly limited current.
I suspect you have a switch at the end of a run of wire, and capacitance between the two wires is allowing a small amount of AC current to flow.
If the switch in question is at the end of a run of wire, this is perfectly normal.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
replying to Don Klipstein, Bruce wrote:

I have the exact same situation in the house addition I'm building, two new 3-way circuits wired as in the photo at the end of a wire run. With the switches in the off position, one circuit read 29 volts across the load wires, and the other read 31 volts. So I hooked up a temporary single light bulb thinking I'd see a very faint glow in the filament. Nothing doing. No glow, and then with the light off, when I read across the terminals of the bulb socket, I read zero volts. click to open the full size version of the image
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 17 Nov 2015 19:44:02 +0000, Bruce

You probably need a low impedence meter to measure the voltage, instead of high impedance that puts no load on the circuit. Usually that means analog, with a needle, rather than digital.
And stop posting urls with [img] in front of or behind them. Each real user of usenet has to edit them out. It's better that you edit them once, than everyone of us having to do so.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 3:11:19 PM UTC-5, Micky wrote:

That would account for why he had 30 volt with no bulb and 0 volts with it. A high impedance meter can read what amounts to stray voltage. With even a small load, it disappears.
As to whether he has some real problem, who knows, because all we know are the two voltage readings. Does the light work?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/17/2015 02:11 PM, Micky wrote:
[snip]

It's a high source impedance (what causes voltage drop). It doesn't take much load to drop the voltage to 0. A LED with appropriate resistor my light.
I have the same situation with solid-state relays (used for holiday light control), "off" isn't quite off and a LED load will light (dimly). Any non-LED load drops the voltage to 0.

I see no purpose to the [IMG] (perhaps some web forum thing?), but don't have to edit them to click on the URL (which my newsreader, Thunderbird, recognized).
--
37 days until the winter celebration (Friday December 25, 2015 12:00:00
AM for 1 day).
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Capacitive coupling from a hot wire into an ungrounded wire will give exact ly the results the OP mentioned, If there is a third wire associated with the first two wires, and that wire is ungrounded at either end, it will als o pick up a signal triggering a sensitive voltage tester. But, if that thi rd wire is grounded at either end, there should be no voltage induced/capac itively in the ungrounded second wire. If the third wire is gounded at the near end, nothing should be measured. If the third wire is grounded at th e far end and at the near end, and carries some return current, there can b e magnetic coupling to the third wire and some voltage may be measured.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

Don't measure voltage with high input impedance digital meters. It'll pick up anything even between your two finger tips. I use old Simpson 260 for that.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 12:53:17 PM UTC-5, Tony Hwang wrote:

xactly the results the OP mentioned, If there is a third wire associated w ith the first two wires, and that wire is ungrounded at either end, it will also pick up a signal triggering a sensitive voltage tester. But, if that third wire is grounded at either end, there should be no voltage induced/c apacitively in the ungrounded second wire. If the third wire is gounded at the near end, nothing should be measured. If the third wire is grounded a t the far end and at the near end, and carries some return current, there c an be magnetic coupling to the third wire and some voltage may be measure d.

I measure voltage all the time using a digital high impedance VOM. You just have to understand electricity 101 to know how to use it and understand what you are reading. And if you want to turn it into a low impedance meter, they have shunt resistors that you can plug in.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.