Edit: Is there a way to find an open neutral between the working breaker and the first nonworking outlet without cutting open the wall. It is a pretty straight shot between the 2 with no junction boxes or known splices between.

3 outlets on 1 breaker, all hot-ground = 120V, neutral-hot and neutral-ground register nothing using a Sperry voltage tester ET6204. Using Ideal circuit tester 61-035, all 3 lights light up in all 3 outlets (top and bottom). I identified which outlet is first. Breaker hot-neutral is 120V. A window was recently replaced near the first outlet in the line. Electrical line runs barely under window in wall. Window attachment screws are in wall very near outlet. What am I looking for and could a window screw have caused the issue?

1 Answer 1


Sounds like you have an open (i.e. broken or loose/disconnected) neutral wire.

  • 1
    Am I looking for an actual broken neutral wire? It has to be between the breaker and the first outlet then, correct? Oct 29, 2020 at 21:32
  • 1
    Broken between since you postulate screw damage, or possibly disconnected AT the first outlet (disconnected wire from outlet, outlet used backstabs and they failed, etc.), yes. Possibly a junction box connection failed between, if there IS a junction box between.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 29, 2020 at 21:35
  • Thanks. I rewired the outlets (was backstabs). That is actually one of the less complicated outlets. Didn't find any junction boxes between. Oct 29, 2020 at 21:43
  • Worth turning the breaker off and checking that the neutral screws are tight on that outlet. Probably not the problem but quick and easy if it is.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 29, 2020 at 21:47
  • Checked screws. Checked under outlet box where wire goes in, no issue screw doesn't enter wall that far. I guess that means the problem is somewhere in the 20 feet between that outlet and the breaker box. Oct 29, 2020 at 22:29

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