I have two upstairs bathrooms with ac outlets. One outlet was working fine, then intermittently, then no power to the device (night light). The wires are hot (voltage testor), but will not power anything. I swapped out both outlets, replacing them with GFCI outlets and still no power (wires are still hot). The outlets are on the same line as the outlets in my kitchen, all on a 20amp breaker, and all downstairs/kitchen outlets work fine. Suggestions?

  • Sounds like the neutral is not connected. You need both a hot and a return path for your devices to work.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 29, 2016 at 17:30

2 Answers 2


If the voltage tester you are using is a "no-contact" or "glow stick" style tester they are not reliable beyond the presence of voltage. Induced voltages from nearby circtuits will cause these to glow.

By this I mean you need to test the circuit with another style of tester such as a solenoid style, LED, Neon or digital multimeter. Electricians for years have used the solenoid style because it puts a load on the circuit and induced voltages from nearby circtuits will not show up.

All that said, the outlets in the bathroom should not be on the same circtuit with your kitchen. If the house was built years ago this may be the case but it shouldn't be.

Step 1 double check that all your breakers are turned on. Some breakers don't appear tripped when they are and their handles only move to the center. Turn all breakers all the way off and then all the way back on.

Step 2 double check your wiring and make sure you are wired to the "Line" terminals on your GFCI receptacle NOT the "Load" terminals.

Step 3 if you have a GFCI receptable that is fed from another GFCI receptacle it cannot be coming from the "Load" terminals on the other GFCI.

Try some of that out and see what happens.

Good luck with your project!


Ok, thank you to all!! I resorted to a fellow with a higher skill level on electricity, but "I helped" (I think he'll charge me extra for that).

As suggested, it was a white-wire (neutral) short, coupled with a broken ground at the outlet just in front of the troubled outlet.

I'll know better next time. Thanks again!

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