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.
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
How to Install Electrical Outlet Wiring
Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home
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.
How to Connect Electrical Grounding
Electrical Grounding Methods and Requirements
Listing of electrical codes for grounding with examples of electrical grounding codes for home electrical wiring.
Learn Home Electrical Troubleshooting and Repairs
Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring Problems
Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.
Types of Electrical Testers
How to Use Electrical Testers
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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When I test outlets in a room that has no power I put both tester probes in the outlet and I get a reading of 1.7 – 1.3 volts. When I test with one probe in the outlet and one on the ground it reads 122- 124 volts. All the outlets in the room are out. Where should I look to find the problem?
It appears that the outlet circuit may have lost connection with the neutral, so the circuit wiring and connections will need to be examined to identify the problem. typically this involves turning the circuit OFF and inspecting each outlet for a burnt wiring splice or a faulty connection. This will require proper repairs and in many cases replacing an outlet that may be affected due to a burnt wire connection.
Here’s a hint about low power at recepticle or doing any DIY electrical work: Write down on paper everything you move, remove, or adjust at the breaker box. I (apparently) removed the white wire from the ‘ground’ in a circuit to my garage outlets. I kept focusing on the breakers which I thought may have gone bad and in the process disconnected the white wire. There was a GFI that was no longer being used and I disconnected it and the good white wire. The was no way I could blame my wife but I took a few minutes to at least try.
This site saved me from having to pay someone which is admitting defeat which means I can go to my wife and look up into the sky and simply say: “Genius”.
I get 122.6 volts out of my wall socket, is that normal?
Yes, 122.6 volts from a wall receptacle is within the USA tolerance levels for a 120 volt circuit.
No Neutral connection.
Our oven at work is only getting 198volts. The oven takes forever to heat up. The power at the breaker also reads 198volts. It is a 50amp breaker. Can you give me some tips.
We need to understand what the normal voltage should be so we know how far off the voltage is. It would be essential to have the electrical utility provider verify that the voltage on there side is within tolerance.
Because you have mentioned that this is happening at work, then this could be a commercial or industrial facility that may have voltages other than 120/240. If the circuit breaker is reading 198 volts then the panel voltage should be tested, and if the panel voltage is low then the power source for the panel needs to be tested. If there is a transformer supplying power to the panel then the transformer may need to be tapped differently to provide more voltage.
I hope this helps,
We have a bakery machine that requires a 20amp 240 volt circuit. We checked the outlet with a meter and it reads that it only gets 203volts. Is this going to translate as a loss of power to the machine?
If the reading of 203 volts is correct then the electrical system at your location may be 120/208volts, 3 phase. The electrical system voltage information may be identified by observing the equipment label on the electrical breaker panel which is supplying the outlet circuit power. If it is found that the circuit voltage is different than the voltage requirements for the machine then it may be necessary to have a transformer installed to correct the voltage. Make sure to check the equipment voltage on the machine because in many cases the machine wiring configuration may be adjusted for different voltages, however this will depend on the specific machine that you have. Consulting the installation and owners manual will provide specific information which will assist you as well.