Two Bathroom Outlets not working

Thread Starter

120volts

Joined Sep 26, 2014
61
I have two bathrooms on opposite sides (both upstairs) of the house that are not working. Neither are GFI. An outlet tester shows voltage but when an appliance is plugged in, nothing. An outlet tester shows "reverse polarity" but my experience with these testers is that it may be a false reading and may be actually a broken neutral. I checked all the wiring and the wires are proper.

I have looked everywhere in the house for GFI's that might control this and found one in the garage but I'm not sure it's tied into the bathrooms (load and line wires are correct on those also). But perhaps it is. I even disconnected this GFI and temporarily pigtailed the hot and neutrals and still nothing upstairs. The GFI in the garage is random but I've seen a GFI here in other houses that control the bathrooms.

I've checked the wiring on the two bathroom outlets and everything looks OK. I've also opened a few outlets outside the bathrooms for a loose neutral and nothing. The only thing I haven't done is to check the neutral pigtails in both outlets but they'll looked good to me.

I'm stumped.

How do I diagnose this problem?
 

Thread Starter

120volts

Joined Sep 26, 2014
61
Oh sorry. Yes, it was the first thing I checked. Nothing tripped but....that said....I didn't check the neutral from the panel if both are tied together???? But I would think several other outlets would be effected.
 
Last edited:

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,402
Can you tell if the affected outlets are on the same breaker and have you toggled that breaker full off and then back on? It can be hard to spot a thrown breaker.
 

Thread Starter

120volts

Joined Sep 26, 2014
61
Totally toggled....they are getting power...just not enough like a blown neutral line. Good question on them being on same circuit. I had tons of other things to do and didn't have much time to diagnose.

This is at a jobsite so I won't have access until I go again in a few weeks.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,668
I can share one strange instance I found at a friends house in NC. His garage was out and several people had looked at it to no avail. I start trying to run down wires. What I finally found was in a downstairs bathroom a GFCI was incorrectly wired. Went from circuit breaker panel to this GFCI which had power but a GFCI has a Line and Load side allowing additional outlets to be connected to the load side. The GFCI was installed backwards and the line side ran to the garage. Apparently it worked this way for several years but I doubt the bathroom was actually protected. Top of the GFCI, the load side as it was connected showed 120 VAC but the other side was nothing. I finally just installed a standard outlet and placed a GFCI breaker in the breaker panel and placed the entire bathroom on it. I then installed another GFCI breaker and ran a new line to tie into the garage. This made sure things were inline with NEC code. Strangest problem I ever encountered.

Based on what you have there is power right till a load is placed on the line which leads me to believe a loose connection at some point.be it neutral or high side. Also peculiar you are seeing a reversed polarity indication.

Ron
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,402
Totally toggled....they are getting power...just not enough like a blown neutral line. Good question on them being on same circuit. I had tons of other things to do and didn't have much time to diagnose.

This is at a jobsite so I won't have access until I go again in a few weeks.
One thing I'd do is bring along a lightbulb on a power cord, so that you can detect if there is actually power present. You can put one lead of the cord onto the test wire and the other end to a proven-good ground.

The point is, a voltage measurement using a meter is a load of less than 1MΩ and you can get all sorts of phantom measurements from inductive or capacitive coupling. Enough to fool the meter. Even a 7W nightlight bulb will eliminate all that and show you whether there is really power there or not.
 

Thread Starter

120volts

Joined Sep 26, 2014
61
Thanks, Ron! You gave me an idea...not about the garage GFI as I already checked load/line wires and everything was right. I even pigtailed hot and neutrals together temporarily and to bypass the GFI with no luck. But you made me realize I didn't check the downstairs bathroom for a broken neutral. Will do so next time I hit the jobsite.
 
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