I am having the following problem. A few months ago I finished my basement (1 Bedroom and 1 Bathroom). I had an existing GFCI outlet down there to which I connected a couple more outlets, an exhaust fan in the bathroom and some LED lighting. Everything worked just fine until 2 days ago. Nothing works anymore in the basement. Breaker did not flip. I disconnected everything that I had connected to this one existing GFCI outlet when I finished the basement. I also took off the existing GFCI outlet to have better access to the incoming cable (source). Below you see the existing circuit (as far as I was able to find out) as well as the measured voltages in the finished basement. Like I said, I disconnected everything in the basement (back to original condition before finishing the basement) and still getting this low voltage. Too low to make anything work. Why did that happen all the sudden and what can I do to fix it? Thanks a lot!

enter image description here

  • 1
    Plug a manual switched, incandescent night-light into the receptacle where you see 94V. When you turn the night light on, does the 94V magically go away? What is the neutral-ground voltage then? Are you using a digital voltmeter? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 5 '17 at 18:08
  • Use one of those plug in circuit testers. – Jim Stewart Nov 5 '17 at 18:17
  • Harper.I connected a regular outlet to the wires in the basement (94V, tested with digital Multimeter) and connected a lamp with a 40W incandescent light bulb. It does not turn on. Now I am measuring Hot-Neutral 0V, Hot to ground 123V, Neutral to ground 123V. Confusing.... – Wiggi1 Nov 5 '17 at 18:29
  • What wire gauge and what is the distance from the breaker to the basement along the wire path. – Ed Beal Nov 6 '17 at 0:35
  • It's 14 gauge copper wire and about 30-40 feet long from the upstairs bathroom to the basement. It's the original wire...so about 25 years old. And working fine for that long. – Wiggi1 Nov 6 '17 at 1:03

Somehow you have lost the neutral to the basement outlet. One way I have found that will often fix this is not rely on the device (switches, receptacles) to carry the power on down the circuit. Put them all under a wire nut with a short pig tail for the device at that location. Good Luck, P.

  • Hello Paul. Thank you for your answer. I am not sure that I understand what you want me tom try to do. The cable going to the garage ad basement is connected as "Load" to the upstairs bathroom GFCI outlet (I tried a new one also with no luck btw). So do you want me to connect the source power cable with the one going down to the basement and garage and then connect these with the "Line" side of the upstairs Bathroom GFCI? – Wiggi1 Nov 5 '17 at 18:16

The neutral wire in the section highlighted below is broken or nor connected.
Go back and check both ends of that particular line.
enter image description here

  • Thanks brhans. The problem is that I don't have access to the entire cable. Only where it comes out of the wall. I opened the wall as far up as I could and "opened" the cable to measure the voltage further up. It showed the same voltage. So if the neutral is broken somewhere it must be in a spot where I can't get to. I don't know where the cable coming from the upstairs bathroom splits to go to the basement and garage. – Wiggi1 Nov 5 '17 at 19:33
  • You don't need access to the entire cable. 99% of wire problems are at the terminations, except for the rare case where somebody punched a nail into a cable or ran a sawzall through it, but you'd know because there'd be recent work. My money is on a bad backstab, good reason to never use backstabs. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 5 '17 at 23:42

You picture shows a T where the wire goes to the outlet and garage. Is it possible that that is in a box somewhere and the bad connection is there? Look around. Maybe its in the ceiling of the basement.

Were the "backstab" (the push in connectors on the back of outlets) used? I have seen those become intermittent.

Or does the circuit to from the upstairs bathroom to the to the garage and then from the garage to the basement?

Good luck!

  • Hi Brian. I read about the tabs. I connected all wires with the screws. No change though. When I disconnect the cable from the upstairs bathroom the garage and basement don't have power. That's why I assume that the cable splits somewhere. Unfortunately, I cannot locate where it splits. – Wiggi1 Nov 5 '17 at 21:57
  • Now I have the idea to run a cable from the garage GFCI outlet to the basement which would be fairly easy to do. However, would the faulty cable, if I just tuck it away, a safety hazard since it would be still connected to the upstairs GFCI outlet???? – Wiggi1 Nov 5 '17 at 22:00
  • Any safety concerns about my idea above??? – Wiggi1 Nov 6 '17 at 23:38

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