Why Receptacle Outlets are Not Getting Full Power
Why Do I Only Have 70 Volts on a 120 Volt Receptacle? How to Troubleshoot and Repair Outlet Problems, The Most Common Problem with Electric Outlets and How to Repair Them.© By: Dave Rongey
Problem with Outlet Receptacle
Electrical Question #1: Why Do I Have 70 Volts on a 120 Volt Receptacle?
I have receptacles that are not receiving full 120 Volts, they are averaging around 70 volts, and the neutral side is reading hot on these receptacles.
- The house is from the 1930’s and there wasn’t a grounding system.
- The contractors added a grounding system and installed GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms, but the rest of the receptacles in the house are still only two wire systems with no ground.
- What could cause the low voltage at the receptacles and why would the neutral side read hot?
Background: Paul, a Student from Bremerton, Washington.
Electrical Question #2: Why Do I Have 56 Volts on a 120 Volt Receptacle?
- I have a 16 year-old house, which was constructed to code. There is a problem with a duplex outlet in the living room.
- The outlet is in a corner location and has not been used since we moved in 8 years ago.
- The vacuum was plugged into the top outlet and it ran slow. I tested the outlet and found that the bottom outlet reads about 118 volts, and the top outlet reads about 56 Volts. This is one of many outlets on the circuit. All the other outlets work fine.
This electrical wiring question came from Richard, a Homeowner in St. Augustine, Florida.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Paul.
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Outlet Problems
Application: Troubleshooting Receptacle Outlets that do not work, or do not have full power.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Certified Electrician or Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Testers and Meters.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring or inspections.
Important: Electrical troubleshooting is best performed by a qualified licensed electrical contractor.
The Most Common Problem with Electric Outlets and How to Repair Them
Troubleshooting Guidelines and Examples:
When Wall Outlets and Receptacles Do Not Work, or They Do Not Have Full Power and the Voltage is Not Normal:
- Lost Connection with the Circuit Neutral
- This is a typical indication that a splice or connection to the neutral has been lost.
- Locating the Lost Connection
- The best way to troubleshoot this type of electrical problem is to locate the upstream outlet that is working and giving normal voltage readings. Turn off the power to this circuit and then remove this outlet and inspect the wiring connections.
- Pay close attention to the neutral connections that may be made to the outlet or check any neutral wire splices.
- In several instances such as this a bad connection is found where the neutral wire pushes into the back side of the outlet.
- What Causes a Lost Connection
- This problem can occur in rooms where high consuming electrical devices are used such as portable heaters, portable air conditioners and vacuum cleaners.
- The electrical circuit load of these high consuming devices is placed on and through every splice or connection within the circuit.
- Check Other Outlets on the Same Circuit
- This process of inspection should be made on all of the working outlets and abnormal affected outlets until the problem is discovered.
- Repairing the Electrical Problem
- If the problem is due to the push-in type wire connection then replace the outlet and make a new splice.
- Attach a separate pigtail of one wire that will connect to the neutral side of the outlet. This method should be applied to all of the connections to the circuit outlets.
- This splicing method will prevent the load of the circuit from passing through the outlet, however the circuit load path will now go through the splice instead.
- Be sure to make a good splice and use the correct size wire connectors approved for the number of wires, and the gauge of the wires.
- IMPORTANT: Home Electrical Power Problems
- If most of the home power does not seem to be correct then contact your electrical utility company or electricity provider so they may check their side of the electrical service to your home.
- If the electrical utility company reports that the electrical service power is OK and the condition persists then it is best to contact a licensed electrician who can perform electrical troubleshooting tests at the electrical panel to identify the electrical system problem and make the necessary electrical repairs.
See More about Electrical Wiring for Wall Outlets and Receptacles
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Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.
Wiring Electrical Wall Outlets
The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.
This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.
Electrical Grounding Methods and Requirements
Listing of electrical codes for grounding with examples of electrical grounding codes for home electrical wiring.
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