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I have a kitchen split receptacle. The top outlet of the receptacle reads 120V AC as expected, with the hot wire being red and feeding from the breaker.

The bottom outlet reads 17.44V AC, with the hot wire being black and feeding from the breaker. This bottom outlet is then itself feeding another unsplit receptacle outside the kitchen, which also reads 17.44V AC.

I have no known load attached to the bottom outlet or unsplit receptacle when I make these measurements. I have already replaced the split receptacle itself, so I am skeptical it is a bad receptacle (without another issue causing them to go bad).

Any ideas as to what could be causing this?

  • This sounds like either a faulty breaker or a faulty connection -- what make and model is your electrical panel, and can you measure for voltage at the lugs on this circuit's breaker? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 3 at 21:04
  • Is there a problem with the receptacle other than your (suspected) voltage anomaly? Are use using a digital meter to check it? – Jimmy Fix-it Mar 3 at 21:16
  • @ThreePhaseEel - The panel is a Westinghouse NovaLine. As for at the breaker, I am getting the same discrepancy. 120V AC on the one pole, 17.4V AC on the other. – Alex Notdorft Mar 4 at 0:07
  • @JimmyFix-it - The bottom outlet of the receptacle, and the entire receptacle feeding from it, do not support a load. I get no power from it. I am using a digital meter in all these measurements. – Alex Notdorft Mar 4 at 0:08
  • I take it this is the only circuit in this house with the problem, @AlexN? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 4 at 1:08
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The breaker's shot

Given that your panel is a Westinghouse Nova-Line, and that the other three poles of the culprit breaker (a quadruplex/double-stuff unit) work, your problem is that a defect inside the culprit breaker pole is preventing it from passing power through to the load. I would try turning it off and back on a couple of times to see if that clears any issues with the contacts; barring that, it's time to replace the breaker with a brand-new Eaton breaker of the same configuration.

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I have wired many splits like this in the past I would check the outlet closer to the main panel 90% of the repairs have been from a bad back stab ( the push in connections) I have found a few that the wire has broken right at a wire nut or a loose wire feeding this side. I would check this first.

  • I happened to have some spare receptacles in storage. I replaced the current one with a brand new one just now, making sure to recut/restrip all the wires. Everything seems tight and connected. The condition has not changed. Full 120V at the top outlet, 17.4V at the bottom and at the connected unsplit receptacle. At the prompt of @ThreePhaseEel above, I investigated the breaker in my box and I am getting the same issue on the relevant breaker. One pole is 120V, the other is 17.4V. – Alex Notdorft Mar 4 at 0:12

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