I checked with a tester. Shows an open neutral. Voltage tester across black and white, nothing. Voltage across black and ground shows voltage of 120. Lines at breaker box tight, breaker not tripped. I disconnected wires from breaker panel and checked continuity using a long wire and tester. The outlet is only 20 feet from panel. White doesn't have continuity, rest do.

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    The title of the question would suggest that it was working and then stopped working. Was there something that occurred that could have affected this change?
    – Alaska Man
    Dec 27, 2020 at 3:45
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    Did you check to make sure that the neutral for this circuit was tight where it lands on the breaker box's neutral bar? Dec 27, 2020 at 3:49
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    At the receptacle end, are you checking the actual wires or by putting the tester probe into the receptacle holes? If the latter, check the wires directly. If the problem then turns out to "be the receptacle", if the connections are via "backstab", switch to screws, if already screws then replace the receptacle. Dec 27, 2020 at 4:13
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    Is it a switched outlet? Sometimes an outlet has one or both sockets controlled by a wall switch. Dec 27, 2020 at 5:42
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    are there any other outlets on that circuit-breaker that still work, the disconnection could be at one of them.
    – Jasen
    Dec 27, 2020 at 6:18

1 Answer 1


Since it is an open neutral we will suspect a bad connection at a backstab or a broken wire at a splice. I work backwards looking for the last working receptacle or the first non working this is the point of failure most of the time.

I don’t look for a switch’s to start with because switching a neutral is a code violation.

Of these problems 98% are from a bad backstab (the push in connectors). You have checked this receptacle so check the next one closer to the breaker panel in most cases remember if a common wall it could be on the other side.

I work back until I find a working receptacle and then check that one of back stabbed just pulling it out and putting it back in can cause it to start working but it will normally fail again with a large load like a hair dryer or plug in heater.

In this case you are looking for a white or grey wire to be loose or broken if things are good at the last working receptacle the first non working will be the problem.

You can find many examples of this on this site but those are the likely locations. If all receptacles show the same open it may be a bad connection on the neutral buss in the panel but this is very rare I have only found a few of these after many decades of electrical work and all but one were doubled up a code violation on the neutral. But ok for most panels on the ground.

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