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Stray voltage at outlet


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6 replies to this topic

#1 jb8103

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 09:55 PM

Why would I see 8 VAC from L1 to neutral when the circuit breaker is off?

Background: this is a kitchen counter outlet. It fails intermittently. We found if we just jiggled the coffemaker plug a bit it usually came back on. Not acceptable, of course, so in a matter of just a few months I dug into it. I found corrosion damage and a fried L1 terminal on the receptacle. It was also showing 120 VAC from L1 to ground, but not necessarily to neutral. This one outlet seems to be feeding two others, also at the kitchen counter.

With the breaker off, we get a reliable 8 VAC from L1 to neutral and ground. As a non-electrician I consider this to be utterly impossible.
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#2 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:02 PM

sometimes, when two separate circuits are traveling through one junction box, such as some ceiling light fixtures,
or multi-gang Wall Switch boxes,
moisture / corrosion can cause leakage from one circuit to the other.
If you're measuring that voltage with "no load", it may be harmless "stray voltage", depending on the actual current available.
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#3 jb8103

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 05:20 AM

Induction? Wouldn't be at this outlet, I don't think, but there is a junction box in the basement directly below...
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#4 certified tech group 51

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 10:37 AM

.....How many outlets on this circuit....... where is the failed outlet located to the other outlets, up-stream / downstream???? From the breaker panel to the first outlet, how many junction boxes are there ??? At the breaker do the same voltage test, Induced voltage is not rare... Two cables getting intertwined........ E.M.F. is measurable...... ( Think transformers ) ..

#5 jb8103

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 08:28 PM

I can't tell without tearing the place apart. Besides we're moving. If stray voltage at this level is not a safety issue, the buyer will be informed and it's their decision. I replaced the outlet and we are back to normal output.
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#6 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 12:34 AM

... If you're measuring that voltage with "no load", it may be harmless "stray voltage", depending on the actual current available.

I've seen such conditions in older houses with "cloth covered" wires.
NM (non-metallic) cable, often called by the trade name "Romex," a plastic covered-cable for use in dry locations
(older NM cable may be cloth covered).
How old is your house ?
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#7 jb8103

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 11:43 AM

I've seen such conditions in older houses with "cloth covered" wires.
NM (non-metallic) cable, often called by the trade name "Romex," a plastic covered-cable for use in dry locations
(older NM cable may be cloth covered).
How old is your house ?


Built in 1880. Now that I have some training and experience, I can see that some of the electrical work done over the years is quite shabby. Again, full disclosure has been made to the buyer, who also has an inspector's report.

Nothing of a safety issue was found, just poor routing and fastening, and a couple of switch legs incorrectly marked. Amateur stuff.
First, do no harm.




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