I have a duplex outlet that appears to wired in series. The outlet appears to have 12/2 in and 12/2 out. My hot wire from the breaker box remains hot unless I have 2 different breakers off. I am getting 124V at the outlet. My voltage remains the same with both breakers, just breaker 1, or breaker 2. I have AF / GF breakers and I am not getting a fault code on either breaker.

I am using AF/GR breakers because there is no ground wire (I have an old home) and because the wires are <5.5 I am installing TR outlets. The plates are marked appropriately.

When I disconnect the opposite set of wires, I loose power to my outlets. This is regardless of what combination of breaker is on.

There is only one hot wire (when the outlet is disconnected) in the box. The other black wire does not have power. My neutrals also do not have power.

Do you know why this is occurring? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. What I'd do would be to draw a careful diagram of what you know, and then post it here. Otherwise, we'll have a tough time figuring out what you mean. – Daniel Griscom Jan 16 '19 at 2:51
  • Post a picture of the breaker panel if you can. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Jan 16 '19 at 2:55
  • There is not a jumper between the breakers. Both the hot and neutral are tight to the breaker. The pigtail from the breaker is tight to the neutral bar – Ben Jan 16 '19 at 3:03
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    Can you trace the box in question back through the homerun(s) to the breaker panel? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 16 '19 at 4:04
  • Wire up a receptacle to the Supply hot and neutral. Plug in a load, almost any load. Does it trip any GFCI? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 16 '19 at 5:32

After going through 20+ outlets, switches, and lights I finally found the issue. Big thank you to everyone for their words of advice. 2 black wires and "common" were incorrectly wired from a switch to a light. Basically they ran a black and white wire to the switch making the common hot (of course the white wire wasn't marked with tape) Then they tied 2 black wires together with that common at the light. I completely removed that entire rats nest of confusion and ran new wires for that portion of the circuit. My entire circuit is now GF/AF protected, free of hot neutrals, TR outlets, and most importantly only works off of 1 breaker.


If I'm reading the question right, the receptacle is hot unless TWO breakers are off - so the hots for two circuits are shorted someplace upstream from that box. If you plug, say, a lamp into that receptacle, you have to turn off two breakers to kill power and turn off that lamp.

What this means is that the hot wires from the two circuits are in contact upstream from that receptacle, and they should not be. It could be a short where a wire is damaged and the two circuits come are in contact where they should not be. Or it could just be a mistake - it could someone accidentally spliced black wires from both circuits under a single wire nut, or otherwise terminated them together, where they should have been kept separate.

This is a safety issue because if that circuit is overloaded, the current will be divided between two breakers, and it will fail to trip when it ought to. Overloading that wire could start a fire.

Unfortunately this can be difficult to find. You can look at whats visible and try to figure out how each circuit runs; you can open up every junction box on the two circuits and see if you can find the error or the short. But unless you get lucky it's probably a job for a pro.

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