Charleston Sc- Inland, not on any beach or anything like that. I have 2 outlets, front porch and back porch. Both porches are covered but outside, nevertheless. They dont get wet when it rains, just the outside moisture from it. Both outlets are on the same circuit, there's no other outlets in this circuit. Just these 2, they're both 15amp.

One at front porch is fed from breaker, it then feeds 2nd one on back porch. The fed back porch quit working, been about a year now. Today I took 2nd fed receptacle off, tested wires and got 119 or so at black/ground. Got 0 at white/ground. There was like 1 or 2 at black/white wires. The neutral and the hot are showing 1 or 2 at the most, sometimes 0, it just sits there and fluctuates around those 3 numbers.

The main front porch outlet that feeds this non working one has 6 wires instead of 3. Two black, 2 neutral whites and 2 grounds. The 2 grounds are twisted several times together, nice and tight. The white and black from the breaker show 119 or 120 or so. The white/ground show 0. The black/ground show 119-120. I replaced the receptacle from an older push type to a newer one.

The newer one all wired up correctly show the 119 to 120 from both white/blacks, both black/grounds and show 0 from both white/blacks. There's still same issue at 2nd outlet.

No power still. Still same black/white showing 1 or 2a. Black/ground showing 119 or so. White/ground showing 0.

Is the breaker bad? Can't be, right? The breaker has red button on it, in the box, none of the other breakers have that red reset button on theirs. The 2 receptacles and not gfci's, just regular receps. 1987 house.

I've done a good bit of troubleshooting and checking things, still not sure why no power at back porch's outlet. Anything I should check for next? I def got tools, time and patience for any help I can get! Thanks.

  • 1
    Sounds lke a GFCI breaker, but since you are getting power to the first outlet and the start of the wire to the second outlet, the problem must be along that wire, not with the GFCI breaker (appropriate for outside outlets.) If you recall any work being done on/in the house around the time the outlet stopped working, look in that vicinity.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:52
  • What sort of wiring method was used to connect the first outlet to the second outlet in this circuit? Commented May 26, 2019 at 23:15
  • Hello and welcome,,,,,To start pics would help a lot, With the boxes open still And hooked up.And if in a basement of wire type. And of the breaker to the circuit .. Sounds like a Gfci breaker. Power to first box sounds fine..If you have a meter that does continuity let us know..I think you may a break in a wire..or a bad recpt, have you change the out lets and how are they mounted to the recpt on the srews or the call it back stabbed into recpt.they loosen. You could shut off power remove recpt splice black to black white to white power on and read 120 to second .replace add new recpt
    – user101687
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


If I read your question correctly you are getting 120 V hot to ground but not 120 V hot to neutral. That sounds like the neutral is broken or there is a poor connection of the ongoing neutral at the first or second receptacle.

You have a voltmeter. Does it have a resistance function (ohms)? If so you can check to see if the connection is broken between the two receptacles.

Turn off the breaker. Plug in a long extension cord sufficient to reach from the front porch receptacle all the way to the back receptacle (either through the house or around).

Test the resistance between the neutral in the cord and the neutral in the back receptacle. The neutral is the longer slot.


If the neutral path is interrupted, you should see a high resistance hundreds or thousands of ohms. You can also check the resistance between the hot in the plug and the hot in the receptacle (shorter slots). Since you report you are getting 120 V hot to gnd, you should see a low resistance there (0.1 ohm or so). Be sure the breaker is off before connecting the meter in the resistance mode to any hots.


The red button almost assuredly makes that breaker a GFCI type, though the writing on the breaker will say for sure. That means the breaker provides GFCI protection for the entire circuit. Do not fit GFCI receptacles on this circuit unless you like playing a "yo dawg" joke on yourself.

Get A GFCI tester (the 3-lamp kind; note that the legends describing what the 3 lights mean are usually wrong). Test the receptacles. If pushing the tester "Test" button makes the breaker trip, then stick a "GFCI Protected" sticker at that receptacle. That will make the inspector approve it.

Now as to your problem, a "dead outlet" failure is always either

  • A failure at the first failed outlet in the chain
  • A failure at the last live outlet in the chain

Since only two places exist and you have one of each, it must be at one or the other. "Back stab" connections are notorious for failing; even more than that, they are notorious for "looking correct but still failing". As a result, most of us consider them totally unreliable, and we refuse to use them, and convert any we see to side-screw or pigtail.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.