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Receptacles with intermittent open neutral

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  • Dec 9th, 2017 8:01 pm
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2014
108 posts
19 upvotes
Madden, AB

Receptacles with intermittent open neutral

It doesn't look like I am able to figure this one out...So, we have three duplex receptacles on the kithchen counter...One of them have the Keurig coffee machine plugged into it...Everything works fine for the last 2 and a half years until recently (about 2 wks ago)... We noticed that after the Keurig is plugged in for a while (a while could be a day or 2 hours, it is really random pattern) the power to the outlet will be lost...When we noticed this, we unplug the Keurig and plug in a kettle, same thing...No power to the outlet...sometimes, after 1hour or so, the outlet seems to get the power back and when we plug the Keurig back in, it will power on and then after certain time, the same thing happen again...
First, we thought it is a bad outlet, so we replaced it today...and everything seems fine at first...but after about 1 hour or so, there is no power to the Keurig again...We tested with outlet tester this time when the power goes off to the outlet, it shows 'Open neutral'...after 30 mins, we tested it again...now this time, it shows 'correct wiring'...We would be calling an electrictian to take a look at this Friday, but given this is intermittent, I am not sure if the electrctian would be able to find anything...
Last edited by irislf on Dec 6th, 2017 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
15 replies
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2014
108 posts
19 upvotes
Madden, AB
so, what we know so far:
1. it is not the receptacles since we have replaced with a new one...same thing..
2. it is probably not the Keurig either...We have moved the Keurig to another outlet, it looks working fine...
3. when all this happen, nothing else was plugged into the kitchen outlets and no breaker was tricked...So I don't think this is an overloading issue?
Newbie
Oct 10, 2017
38 posts
19 upvotes
Barrie, Ontario
irislf wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 10:31 pm
so, what we know so far:
1. it is not the receptacles since we have replaced with a new one...same thing..
2. it is probably not the Keurig either...We have moved the Keurig to another outlet, it looks working fine...
3. when all this happen, nothing else was plugged into the kitchen outlets and no breaker was tricked...So I don't think this is an overloading issue?
Sorry but what makes you think an electrician will not figure the problem out? They do this stuff every day 24-7. I think it's safe to say you need to call in a pro.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2014
108 posts
19 upvotes
Madden, AB
RFDizzy wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 10:46 pm
Sorry but what makes you think an electrician will not figure the problem out? They do this stuff every day 24-7. I think it's safe to say you need to call in a pro.
Because it is intermittent...like right now, the Receptacles has power to it and if we plug in the outlet tester, it is showing 'correct wiring'...I am just worried about when the electrician come he might not be able to recreate the situation we had before and troubleshoot...
We have already made an appointment for the electricain to come on Friday but just wondering if anybody have any idea what might be causing this issue...
Sr. Member
Nov 30, 2011
687 posts
167 upvotes
GTA
The neutral is loose on one of the receptacles up line to this one.
You can pull them apart to find the one that needs to be tightened or call in an Electrician to do the job for you.
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1026 posts
218 upvotes
Toronto
westcoastyvr wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:26 pm
The neutral is loose on one of the receptacles up line to this one.
You can pull them apart to find the one that needs to be tightened or call in an Electrician to do the job for you.
Highly doubt that because counter plug should be dedicated.
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1026 posts
218 upvotes
Toronto
probably the breaker, maybe a loose wire because this sounds like expansion issue with overheated wires.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2014
108 posts
19 upvotes
Madden, AB
DIrty-D wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:29 pm

Highly doubt that because counter plug should be dedicated.
DIrty-D wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:30 pm
probably the breaker, maybe a loose wire because this sounds like expansion issue with overheated wires.
Sorry, what do you mean by counter plug should be dedicated? We have three counter plugs in total and one kitchen island plug...They connect to two 20A breakers... also, I am pretty sure there is no overloading happenning...if so, would there be overheated wires? By the way, this happens even when the Keurig is only in idle mode(not brewing)...
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1026 posts
218 upvotes
Toronto
irislf wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:37 pm
Sorry, what do you mean by counter plug should be dedicated? We have three counter plugs in total and one kitchen island plug...They connect to two 20A breakers... also, I am pretty sure there is no overloading happenning...if so, would there be overheated wires? By the way, this happens even when the Keurig is only in idle mode(not brewing)...
Just open all 4 outlets and redo the connections. If that doesnt fix the problem, check the neutral and hot wires at the breaker panel, they may be loose.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
12142 posts
1933 upvotes
London
Be careful, floating neutrals on split kitchen receptacles can cause some damage, depending on how old the house is. You might want to stop using them until an electrician can fix the problem
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2014
108 posts
19 upvotes
Madden, AB
l69norm wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 1:00 am
Be careful, floating neutrals on split kitchen receptacles can cause some damage, depending on how old the house is. You might want to stop using them until an electrician can fix the problem
Thank you...The house is less than 3 yrs old and we are the first owner...We now know that the problematic outlet long with another outlet is on one breaker...So I would guess that would be the line we (the electrician) need to focus on when troubleshooting, correct? Inside the problematic outlet box, there is one ground, one hot, one netural, I guess that would indicate it is the end outlet on the line?
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
12142 posts
1933 upvotes
London
irislf wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 1:24 am
Thank you...The house is less than 3 yrs old and we are the first owner...We now know that the problematic outlet long with another outlet is on one breaker...So I would guess that would be the line we (the electrician) need to focus on when troubleshooting, correct? Inside the problematic outlet box, there is one ground, one hot, one netural, I guess that would indicate it is the end outlet on the line?

Kitchen receptacles are normally "split" so they are fed with from two 120 VAC breakers tied together (a tandem breaker or 240VAC). The bottom part of the outlet is one 120V circuit and the top part of the outlet would be on the other 120V circuit. This allows people to run two big loads from the same outlet. In the outlet box, you would have a red wire (120 hot for one circuit), black (120 hot for the other circuit), white (neutral) and ground

From your description, it sounds like it's not a split receptacle (has only a black = hot, white = neutral and ground) ? The two breakers don't have pin connecting the handles together?
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2014
108 posts
19 upvotes
Madden, AB
l69norm wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 1:40 am
Kitchen receptacles are normally "split" so they are fed with from two 120 VAC breakers tied together (a tandem breaker or 240VAC). The bottom part of the outlet is one 120V circuit and the top part of the outlet would be on the other 120V circuit. This allows people to run two big loads from the same outlet. In the outlet box, you would have a red wire (120 hot for one circuit), black (120 hot for the other circuit), white (neutral) and ground

From your description, it sounds like it's not a split receptacle (has only a black = hot, white = neutral and ground) ? The two breakers don't have pin connecting the handles together?
It has black(hot), white(neutral) and a ground wire...the two breakers are like two individual breakers (no handles together) , both are 20 A
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
12142 posts
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London
irislf wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 1:48 am
It has black(hot), white(neutral) and a ground wire...the two breakers are like two individual breakers (no handles together) , both are 20 A
Look at the other outlet (first) on the same circuit:

Breaker -> first outlet --> second outlet (keurig)

The first outlet daisy chains all it's wiring to the second outlet (The keurig with the problem). It's done using the "back stab " connection where the bare wire is pushed (stabbed) into the back of the receptacle. Sometimes the back stab is not tight, so the downstream outlet has problems. This is what the other posters are referring to.

There will be 2 blacks (hot from the breaker + hot going to the second outlet), two whites (neutral from the breaker + neutral going to second outlet) and a ground

When the backstab is bad in the first outlet, it's quite common to get intermittent/weird power in the second (some times you have 120, sometimes 0, sometime 60V, etc)

Note that the first outlet will work perfectly which is why most folks would never suspect that it has the problem
Sr. Member
Mar 19, 2013
607 posts
173 upvotes
Prince Albert, Sask.
DIrty-D wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:54 pm
Just open all 4 outlets and redo the connections. If that doesnt fix the problem, check the neutral and hot wires at the breaker panel, they may be loose.
Agree. I would redo all the connections on the circuit. This would ensure all connections are tight. Many years ago, our dishwasher would not run. The control panel would light up. Called in the pros, 2 of them spent 2 days, literally took the dishwasher apart, no go. One of them decided to check the electrical panel. Sure enough a loose neutral, tightened it, problem solved.

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