So a few outlets on the same circuit suddenly stopped working yesterday, and we suspect that's due to a bad receptacle which is on the outside of the wall. We opened it up, and tried to replace the receptacle but it still didn't work. And it even didn't work if we just leave the wires open(i.e. no receptacle)

So we tried to measure the voltage, and it's pretty weird: 110v between hot and ground, 110v between neutral and ground, but ~3v between hot and neutral, why?

We also checked other outlets on the same circuit and all hot&neutral have ~3v as well.

What could possibly be wrong there?

  • 1
    Imagine somewhere in that circuit, the white/neutral has been disconnected from the neutral path to the panel and connected to the hot path. If you did not do/have any work(might be drilling/nailing into wall) done to cause the boo-boo, then the problem might be in the walls and might have mice(probably one dead one now). The ~3 is probably phantom voltage.
    – crip659
    Jul 12, 2022 at 11:51
  • 2
    Your location in the world might help also. I am assuming North America, but 110 volts is a bit on the low side of the standard 120 volts.
    – crip659
    Jul 12, 2022 at 12:31
  • 1
    lost neutral somplace Jul 12, 2022 at 17:22
  • 3 volts difference is fairly normal.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 12, 2022 at 20:27
  • There's no need to add the "[solved]" edit. The fact that you've clicked the check mark on the answer below is sufficient to show that this has an accepted answer. If you'll spend a few moments to take the tour, you'll see how we work a bit differently here than at most fora.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 19, 2022 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


You lost a neutral. If neutral is 120V to ground, then you're on the far side of the break from the service panel.

The break is either at the first broken outlet in the string, or the last good one. Backstabs are the usual cause.

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