Electrician replaced my electrical service box Friday, no other
electrical work has been done in house. Every thing seemed normal with
electrical in house, until wife went to wash clothes today.
Washer would not come on. Took my voltage tester to outlet, showed 104
Volts all other outlets in garage and house show 120 Volts. Suspect
electrician forgot to hookup neutral wire for this outlet?
Would outlet show 104 Volts if neutral wire not hooked up at panel?
That wouldn't explain 104 volts but it would explain the washer not
working. Does a light bulb work (i.e. do you have a curcuit).
I am confused by one thing and I'm not trying to be a troll or
anything. If you have an electrical tester and can use it without
electricuting yourself, why can't you tell if the recepticle is wired
I have not pulled recepticle from wall, I just put test leads into
outlet. I donot want to pull a part anything since electrician will be
All other outlets in house work fine except Washer 120 outlet.
Maybe the 104 v is phantom voltage if you used a
digital voltmeter. Plug in a small lamp and see
if it lights. If not, maybe the the receptacle
isn't really hooked up or the breaker at the panel
is flipped on.
Yes I did use digital voltmeter. Checked breaker panel all are on.
Will hook up light, see what I get when I get home Monday.
If neutral wire not connected at breaker panel what sort of reading
would I get on my digital volt meter at outlet?
If your main breaker box neutral wire is disconnected, the voltage
that you might measure at any outlet will vary unpredictably depending
on the distribution of the active 120 V. loads on the two hot wire
legs coming into your service entrance. A severe fault like an open
neutral means that effectively, different groups of 120 V. loads are
in-series with each other.
If the loads on the two hot wires are perfectly balanced (which is
seldom the case), then each appliance or light would have exactly the
same (120 V. nominal) voltage across it and zero current would flow
through the neutral. The purpose of the neutral is to carry the
difference current between the two legs (in a split-phase system) and
keep the voltage the same on both legs regardless of the load.
In the worst case, you could have up to near 240 volts across a 120
volt circuit if the load is severely imbalanced.
In any case, an open main neutral is a serious problem and you need an
electrician pronto. There are risks of fires and expensive appliances
Also, a local problem with a bad connection anywhere in a circuit
could be the cause of low voltage (104 V.) at just one outlet.
Thats the case for an open neutral on circuits with a common neutral.
George is guessing that the neutral on a single circuit may be open
(good guess). There can be capacitve currents from the open neutral to
ground. The current will be very small, but with a high resistance
digital meter can show phantom voltages.
Plug-in outlet testers also operate at low current and can indicate no
problem when one exists. They particularly can indicate a good ground
when there is none.
If you are talking about the little plug in testers with neon or LED
ights, I've never seen one light up falsely with an open ground, but I
agree it tells nothing of the quality of the ground.
The more expensive testers check for varying amounts of current to
ground to see if there is in fact a high resistance connection.
You can do basically the same thing with a 60 - 100 watt light bulb on
a pigtail socket connection. At any outlet, the hot to ground lamp
brightness should be about the same as the hot to neutral brightness.
Put a voltmeter in parallel with the lamp if you need more accuracy.
The point is that the ground is tested under load (current carrying)
Of course, if you check a GFCI circuit and the GFCI is working
properly, it will trip instantly when you try the hot to ground lamp
Instead of using a voltmeter to test, I'd suggest buying one of those
handy-dandy plug-in testers that tells you immediately, using colored
lights, whether an outlet is correctly wired, and identifies several
common faults (missing ground, missing neutral, ground & neutral
switched, etc.) if it isn't. Cheaply available everywhere. I'm sure you
electrician has at least one of them.
Just as McDonald\'s is where you go when you\'re hungry but don\'t really
care about the quality of your food, Wikipedia is where you go when
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