I have two 110V outlets that suddenly only have 16 volts. Both are in the same wall, about 6' apart. The breaker has not tripped. Other outlets on the same circuit work fine. They are only about 10 years old and no work was being done.

Why the sudden drop in voltage?

2 Answers 2


You have bad wiring or a bad outlet. Turn off the breaker for that circuit immediately as this type of problem can cause arcing or heating at the site of the break, possibly leading to a fire. And no, this type of failure may not trip a breaker.

Depending on your comfort working with household voltages and wiring, you can start troubleshooting by figuring out where the wire for those outlets start and inspecting the end for corrosion, nicks on the conductor, or breaks in the conductor or insulation. Also try replacing the outlets themselves, including the outlet before the non-working outlets.

A quick anecdote: an outlet in my previous house that had been working fine for years developed this weird behavior where if something was plugged in, nothing else in the room worked. Turns out that the outlet had a manufacturing defect that only became apparent after 4 years of use.


If you have 16 volts probably the hot is connected, but not the neutral.

Check voltage between hot and ground, see if you have full voltage.

Then turn off the breaker, remove the outlet and look for the broken/loose wire.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.