I've been having issues with one circuit in my house. The power to lights and outlets on that circuit are only getting 60 v instead of the 120. I've pulled and checked the outlets and changed them to new. I've changed the breaker from 15 to 20 amp. I've pulled and checked the lights and light switches. Everything seems fine. Are there any more ideas? Yes I've switched the main breakers on the pole and in the panel on and off. All the 220v breakers and units like stove, well pump and water heater area working fine. I'm hoping for an obvious, simple solution. Thanks, Ross

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    Where and how are you measuring 60v, Breaker to neutral buss bar or at an outlet? Did you increase the amperage of the circuit because it has 12 gauge wire, or just because you thought increasing amps might help with volts? (PS - unless it’s 12 gauge wire put the 15 amp breaker back NOW, your circuit has a problem and you’re defeating the protection for the wire from catching fire and burning your house down.)
    – Tyson
    Aug 19, 2018 at 12:45
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    Are there any 120V circuits in the house that read higher voltage? Aug 19, 2018 at 12:46
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    At the point you are getting 60 V is this hot to neutral or hot to ground? Measure neutral to ground there and report. You may have a loose neutral which will cause damaging and even dangerous heating at the point of the loose connection. Aug 19, 2018 at 13:37
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    All due respect. STOP DOING RANDOM STUFF. Ever hear the expression "Arranging deck chairs on the Titanic"? You know why people do that? Because they don't know how to solve the real problem... but they do know how to do this, and they feel like they're doing something. The things you did wouldn't have brought you closer to a solution, and did potentially introduce new problems of their own. The 20A breaker has to go! Now you're asking, which is the right thing to do. Aug 19, 2018 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


First, turn the circuit breaker off, and plug a nightlight or other small load into every receptacle that does not have power since you turned the breaker off. This may include "working" receptacles or outlets. Don't just do the ones you think are dead. Make sure the light etc. is on. Incandescent is preferred, this is why I use dollar store night lights. (NOT with light sensor).

The reason for the above is to suppress what's called "Phantom Voltage", which tends to fool cheap DVMs into indicating voltage that isn't actually present.

My money says all your "60V" indications will go away, and hot-neutral will now read 0 volts. Now you have a normal problem to solve. I hope you're also checking hot-ground; this will tell you which one is broken. Yes, neutral can break. 99% of the time it's broken at a termination, unless you've recently been driving nails into your walls.


Now, in the panel, measure from the breaker's output lug to the neutral bar. That, at least, should be 120V. Do this with the 20A still in there, and before you swap back to the 15A. It's a good time to check for changes. A problem here is highly improbable unless you mixed breaker brands or types -- you must not mix breaker brands, they do not physically fit properly. It's not a brand loyalty thing, it's fitment issue.

While you're swapping breakers, take a close look at the breaker lug, where the breaker clips in. Is it scorched or burnt? That lug is energized so don't touch it. Scorched or burnt lugs is what happens when you mix breaker brands.

Anyway, we should now have solid 120V between breaker lug and neutral bar.

Now shut off the breaker (important!) and pull neutral off the bar. Look for anything weird there - loose wire, corrosion etc. Is it double-tapped onto a single lug with another wire? Look at the panel's labeling and see if that's allowed. If it's not, fix it.

While the neutral's removed and the breaker is off, set the voltmeter to "Ohms" and measure between the neutral wire and the hot wire. It should give a reading between 10 ohms and 25,000 ohms. Those would be the loads you plugged in earlier. If it's infinity, then the problem is between here and the first place you plugged in a load. Put the DVM back to 200V range before you forget.

Rest of the circuit, one step at a time

Now we get into guessing the route of the circuit from the panel. Try your best to find the first receptacle. Your goal is to troubleshoot only between the breaker panel and this first receptacle, and keep the rest of the circuit out of the troubleshooting (because it's too much). If you can get this first receptacle working, it's downhill from here.

So take a guess. There will be 2+ cables coming into that receptacle box, separate them. Power up and test which side is energized. That's the supply. Push the non-supply wires aside, and attach the 2 supply wires + their ground to a spare receptacle.

Pay attention to what you're doing with receptacles, particularly if it is a split receptacle.

If you're using "backstab" connections, stop. They are notorious failure points. Use the side screws and use best practice there (found here, on YouTube, etc.)

I suspect you should be able to get this working. Then you can extend to the next receptacle, etc. At some point the whole circuit will just come back, and you're done, except for fixing any "split receptacle" issues previously added.

If you just can't get the first receptacle working, shoot some photos and edit this question, or ask another.

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