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I have 83 volts hot to neutral 120 volts hot to ground and 26 volts neutral to ground on an existing arc fault breaker circuit.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Daniel Griscom, Machavity, Retired Master Electrician, Chris Cudmore, Iggy Jul 18 at 22:47

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    so you have a question? – jsotola Jun 8 at 3:31
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    Can you rephrase this into a question, please? – Nicknamednick Jun 8 at 4:01
  • Is something malfunctioning on this circuit, or are you simply concerned (and rightly so) about the excessive N-G voltage? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 8 at 4:14
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. We'll need more info to help you, and please take our tour so you'll know how better to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Jun 8 at 12:12
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    This is like reverse Jeopardy. You have to ask the question first. Anyway, plug a night-light into one socket while measuring the other. I bet the phantom voltage goes away. – Harper Jun 8 at 14:21
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You probably have a loose neutral somewhere, or have misidentified a switched hot as a neutral.

Breakers, including arc fault, ground fault, and just standard ones, are either open or closed. They have negligible impact on the circuit, and unless they trip, can be treated as just not there.

  • This was found during a maintenance check after people moved out. Never a complaint of a problem. No switches on this circuit. I will look for a loose neutral. Thanks – Winder Jun 8 at 10:00
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What you are measuring is "phantom voltage" due to the fact that you are using a very sensitive voltmeter, which describes most DVMs these days. If you were using a plain old meter, the voltage would not show because it does not have enough force to move the jeweled needle.

Phantom voltage comes from a wire which is disconnected, running parallel to a wire which is hot. It is caused by the tiny amount of capacitance in the wire insulation.

I don't see any way a tenant could possibly cause this. If you find a burnt up neutral somewhere, backstabs frequently fail that way all by themselves on perfectly reasonable loads, because backstabs are cheap builder/slumlord tier garbage. Screw terminals also can burn up if they are improperly torqued, and improper torque is such a problem that NEC now mandates everyone use torque screwdrivers.

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