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I have a circuit with 7 outlets and 2 light switches that suddenly quit working. I have checked all GFCI outlets that I know of around the house. I have replaced the 2 possible breakers for that area. Also, I have replaced the 2 light switches and all of the outlets that I can identify on the circuit. Doing a simple power test on the outlets and switches, still, nothing works. Testing the wires on any outlet, hot to neutral shows no power, but either wire to ground does have some power. Where do I go to next?

  • What additional test equipment do you have? Meter? Hot stick? From the text in the question leads me to believe those test result were from a plug in tester? – Tyson Nov 7 '18 at 17:59
  • We're you using a portable heater or a large electrical load when it quit working? – Ed Beal Nov 7 '18 at 18:07
  • A simple light tester was all that I had last night. I am planning on buying a better tester/meter today. Let me know if you have any suggestions. As for the load on the circuit, almost nothing. Only a modem/router, computer, monitor, and printer. An IR lamp heater was plugged in, but had not been used for about a month. – Catfish2112 Nov 7 '18 at 18:41
  • I just ran a quick test with a volt meter. Outlets in other rooms show 121V. In the room that is not working, this is what I found. Black to white - nothing. Black to ground - 121V. White to ground - jumped around between 90V and 113V. It would not stay at a constant voltage. – Catfish2112 Nov 7 '18 at 19:30
  • So it sounds like you’re looking for a break in white wire. There are three logical possibilities. 1) the neutral wire nut in a switch box. You replaced switches, but if power is fed from there, the white should be wirenuted 2) if power is fed from the fixture, another possibility depending how it was wired originally, then you might have a loose white bundle in a light fixture or 3) the hardest, there is at least one good outlet on this circuit—and it has the bad quick wire device. – Tyson Nov 7 '18 at 19:40
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To test this circuit, unplug everything on all the receptacles and turn off the light switches. Turn off the breaker to the circuit. Verify that you have no hot wires.

A quick test for continuity of the neutral all the way to the panel is to select any receptacle in the non-working circuit and test the resistance between the neutral contact (longer slot) and the ground. Low resistance (~<= 0.3 ohm) indicates continuity of neutral.

There is a way to test the continuity of your neutral wire in a circuit using an ohmmeter and a sufficiently long extension cord.

Turn off the breaker.

Plug the extension cord into any receptacle in the non-working circuit. Then take the other end of the cord over to any other receptacle in the non-working circuit and measure the resistance between the neutral in the cord and the neutral of the receptacle. (The neutral is the longer slot.) If the resistance is low ~=<0.2 Ohm, then there is no break in the neutral between the two points.

To include in the test the wiring from the first receptacle back to the panel, take the end of the cord to a receptacle on another circuit* and test the resistance between the neutrals. *This would be a working circuit and it would be better to turn off the breaker for it, but if you are confident that you will not insert the meter probe into the hot slot, then you can leave the breaker on, especially if you use a plug in circuit tester to verify that the hot and neutral are not switched.

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I would get a tone generator and trace the wire from where it is not working. They are handy and you can get them for pretty cheap online.

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