If I plug a hairdryer or anything else into a outlet, I lose voltage in the whole house. If I plug the iron in, the stove surges. This is a nightmare. I can't run the fridge; I can't even get the TV to come on. This just happened all of a sudden.

Also I have backfeeding on multiple circuits. No breakers have tripped. On my main breaker I'm pulling 170V with nothing on. Also I can shut all circuits down and still loose voltage on that circuit.

What could be happening?

  • 1
    Possibly an open neutral after the breaker panel, but hard to tell from this description. We need more detail, particularly what you mean by backfeeding and where you're measuring voltage in different situations.
    – BMitch
    Aug 11, 2013 at 10:59
  • 2
    Are you in a country that has 230V electrical supply (you mention 170V and low-voltage)?
    – Niall C.
    Aug 11, 2013 at 13:33
  • 2
    Sounds like an open neutral which can be very dangerous and/or damage a lot of your electronics. It might be best to contact a licensed electrician. You said "pulling 170V with nothing on" - voltage should always be near constant; it's the load (amps) which will change depending on what is drawing power.
    – Steven
    Aug 11, 2013 at 15:28
  • 1
    Note: details like house age, wiring type, and a photo of your breaker panel would help in answering the question.
    – Bryce
    Aug 12, 2013 at 18:27
  • It could be a partially broken hot: something constricting the current in the hot side. The problem could be upstream from the house in the transformer "down the street". Maybe someone didn't call before they dug. Has there been any construction or digging in the neighborhood?
    – Kaz
    Aug 13, 2013 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


Very very dangerous. First, all your electrical equipment is at risk. Shut off the mains, call an electrician. Or wait a bit longer and call the fire brigade.

If you have a shared neutral, or multiwire branch circuit, the neutral could have broken. Or the house was miswired (see http://www.homeinspector.org/resources/journals/Multiwire-Branch-Circuits.pdf ). Or what should have been a double breaker flipped, leaving the other half hot.


Just ran into the same problem on a house ended up being a circuit was shorted removed that problem it was fine . When we got their and started checking things out you could turn the dryer on and the range would make a funny sound testing the outlets in the kitchen plug a tester in the socket everything that was plugged up blew up looking at the panel I pulled all the breakers the bus bar had almost melted and was almost to the point it was touching this home did not have a main breaker was was about ready to burn . Replaced the old panel with a new one fixed a few wires they had wired wrong in the back bath and got the shorted one out of the mix and everything was fine .


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