This might be better asked over on electrical engineering, but it concerns household voltage and I know we have a some smart electricians on this site, so maybe one of you might be able to shed some light.
One of my sump pumps and my A/C condenser fan both broke this evening. It seemed an odd coincidence and we'd had a few mild surges from a thunderstorm passing through, so I wanted to check the voltage at an outlet to see what was coming through from the grid.
I picked a random outlet in the kitchen and stuck the probes in, getting a rather boring 123v between the poles. So I guess the motor issues really were just coincidental. However, I noticed as I was removing the probes that I still get a reading with only one connected. If I leave the neutral connected and hold the other probe in the air, I get a reading of ~2v. If I do the same with only the hot terminal connected, the reading is almost 20v.
Can my outlets really just dump that much voltage into (literally) thin air, or is something else going on here? Is the air highly charged from the storm (wouldn't we feel it?) What could cause these readings?
Thermostat is reporting 68% relative humidity if that makes any difference.