Odd readings replacing an outlet.

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by 73Electra225, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. 73Electra225

    73Electra225 New Member

    Oct 9, 2007
    Hi, I just moved into a house that I'm renting and I'm replacing some of the outlets as they are old 'double-t' style ones. The wiring is armor clad and I'm using self-grounding outlets. The first two I did went fine. Normal readings from hot to ground and neutral to ground. I just did one in the kitchen, though, and I'm getting around 13V-14V hot to ground and about 23V-24V neutral to ground. There are four outlets total on this circuit and I get about the same readings when I tested two of the old outlets, using the plate screw as ground. Now, the fridge is also on this circuit and is plugged into the one outlet I haven't tested yet. Could the fridge be causing these readings? I haven't tried to take a reading yet w/the fridge unplugged. I'm using a Craftsman digital multimeter.
  2. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Jun 16, 2007
    Licensed Electrical Contractor
    NY State, USA
    Do you own this place? Or are you the renter?

    If you are the renter is it 99.9% likely that you are NOT legally allowed to do ANY electrical work there.
    You are opening yourself up to some SERIOUS liability.
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  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego
    You have an open circuit, possibly an open ground or open neutral. A load ( like a light bulb or refrigerator) can contribute to seemingly un-natural voltage readings, because they provide a path for current flow, in an open circuit completed by the very presence of the meter.

    A digital meter can also cause what are known as "phantom voltage" readings, due to its very high input impedance.

    To trouble shoot this, you need to understand the circuit and how the loads can affect readings. For starters, if you remove all possible loads ( lights, refrigerators, coffee pot, etc.). Then determine if the open is the ground, the neutral, or possibly the hot.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Oct 20, 2005
    New Hampshire
    Plug an incandescent light into an outlet towards the far end of the circuit and turn it on. Then measure hot to neutral. You should have something near 120 Volts.

    Then measure hot to ground. If you don't get the same reading then you probably have an open ground.

    Measure neutral to ground. If you don't get zero volts you almost certainly have an open ground.
  6. Michael15956

    Michael15956 In the Trades

    Oct 9, 2007
    Electrical Contractor
    N.E. Ohio
    Do you guys think this is a good way to measure a circuit?
  7. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Jun 14, 2007
    North Carolina


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