The six outlets in a bedroom suddenly show a voltage of 80 and lights do not work. Everything was functional before. The breaker does not show anything unusual.

Last month we rewired a bathroom which is functional and does not show any issues. When breaker switch for bathroom were turned off the bedroom lights were not affected. I assume this means they are not on the same circuit.

A plug tester was used to check the outlets in the bedroom. It first read "hot ground reverse", but then after I unplugged all lights and items it reads "no neutral".

What should I look for to find the cause of problem?

Edit/Conclusion, opened all receptacles. In one of them the neutral wire just fell out. Given that these are 12 gauge wires it was strange to see them loose. They were all back-stabbed. Perhaps that makes for loose connection if wire is not pressed in far enough. Had seen another one in another room that was broken at the tie-in screw. Again strange to see such a hard wire break.

  • 2
    Is that 80V H-N, H-G, or both? Jan 23, 2021 at 3:44
  • Are the non-working items on the same circuit as the bathroom? If so, the rewiring of the bathroom must have messed things up. Jan 23, 2021 at 5:52
  • @SteveWellens When breaker switch for bathroom were turned off the bedroom lights were not affected. I assume this means they are not on the same circuit.
    – Maesumi
    Jan 23, 2021 at 10:27

1 Answer 1


In general true low voltage readings indicate a loose connection in the circuit somewhere. Identify the circuit by turning the breaker off and now find all of the devices and lights that are off or reading 0 volts. Then turn the circuit breaker back on and trace the circuit. If you can find where the devices and fixtures are reading 120V nominal and the next device or fixture is reading 80V. There is a good chance you have found the area of the problem.

Check all splices and connections to see if there is a loose wire. Look for decolorization of the conductor or burnt insulation since loose fittings create heat. I think it would be good advice to check the entire circuit to make sure the problem does not reoccur. If you find more questionable connections. You should schedule to go through all of the circuits and check for the same problem.

Hint: If you check the the conductors at the problem with the voltmeter. Check voltage across each conductors. If you read 80V between the hot and neutral, and read 120V between the hot and ground. You have a malfunctioning neutral. If you read 80V between hot and both the neutral and ground your problem is with the hot conductor.

Safety note: As I stated above loose or malfunctioning connections create heat and do not trip the breaker so there is a chance if a fire hazard. Needless to say it is a dangerous situation and must be found and repaired. If you are having trouble finding the problem. It might be a good idea to call in an experienced service technician and let them deal with it.

Good luck and stay safe.

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