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!
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Tue, 21 Aug 2007 21:21:24 -0400, "RBM" <rbm2(remove
Thanks. House was built in '88. He said he didn't have GFCI at the
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?
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
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.
Well, I just went over and it tested at 5 volts or so, and down to
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.
I will admit he's worse than me, but even I wouldn't want to tear up
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
Any thoughts what's going on with the outlets? Thanks again.
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