4 can lights not working. Found (with a voltage pen tester) that the neutral is hot in the cans and at both 3-way switches. Pulled the wires and the switches from the boxes. Used a digital volt meter, found the neutral lines and one hot wire at, both switch locations, read 119v when checked with the ground wire. In the panel box I found 2 ground wires melted together just before they go into the bus-bar. Can this cause the hot neutral wires?

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    I'm thinking this is beyond D.I.Y. and you need to hire someone who knows their stuff. – JACK Oct 30 '19 at 1:37
  • If neutral is hot, what is hot doing? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 30 '19 at 1:49
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    Tick testers or non contact voltage testers are no good here, 2 wires in parallel 1 hot and one not connected to anything , the one not connected to anything will show hot in many cases, look up phantom voltage. If this house is older than 5 years there was no neutrals in those boxes but a pair of travelers. More info is needed, number and color of wires in each switch location and light fixture. It’s not hard and their are many answers on this topic. White wires are Not always neutral , in some cases the white was an always hot bu code in a switch leg. So jack may be right but more info! – Ed Beal Oct 30 '19 at 2:52
  • Maybe you mean "soldered" as melting would be 1800+F and caused more the voltage problems. – blacksmith37 Oct 31 '19 at 14:46

Reading your question I think you have or had a high resistance joint in your panel on the neutral. In general electrical circuits in your residence wire all loads in parallel. This distributes amperage through each light fixture and the voltage remains the same.

If you had a loose connection of the neutrals at the panel this actually becomes a load in series with the rest of the circuit. The high resistance at that point would cause a voltage drop building up heat and melting your insulation. It would also show voltage on the neutral before it dropped at the joint.

I can't say that this is the only problem on your circuit but you must clean this up before trouble shooting any other problem that may be on the circuit. Make sure the circuits on the neutral are off then disconnect the neutral from the bus. Clean off any melted insulation, and clean the conductor so it looks "like a new penny". Make sure that when you reattach the neutral to the bus that it is also clean of and burning or corrosion. Make sure the neutral is mechanically and electrically secure to the bus. Then turn your circuit back on and see if there are any other problems.

Hope this helps and good luck.

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  • Thanks for your knowledge sharing. At first I thought it was a ground wire that had melted but it was actually the neutral and ground. Both were going into the same spot on the bus. Clipped them both back to good wire and put them in different spots on the bus. I think you nailed it with the loose connection. The neutral fell out of the bus when I touched the lock down screw. Went over all the connections in the breaker box and found others that tightened up. I also found one of the 3-way switches ungrounded. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. – Jonathan Starkey Nov 1 '19 at 3:11

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