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  1. #1
    captain obvious Lurker's Avatar
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    Any Electricans in the house?

    I installed a ceeling fan in my parents living room yesterday. This is the third one I've installed in the same spot within the last 5 years, the other two were the same brand and both stopped working, hoping it was just a crappy brand.

    Anyway while installing the new fan I was checking voltages and I found something strange but have no idea what could be causing it. There are two switches one for the light and one for the fan. Switch #1 is a black wire Switch #2 is a red wire. White is neutral, bare is ground. I used the white wire as my reference with the meter and here is what I saw:
    S1=off S2=off black=40V red=18V
    S1=Off S2=on black=58v red=can't remember
    S1=on S2=off black=120v red=18v
    S1=on S2=on black=120v red=112v
    The only time I saw no voltage is when I flipped the breaker.

    What could be causing this, a loose ground? I was having some other issues and I found a bundle of neutral (white) wires was loose re-connecting them with a wire nut fixed that problem. I re did all of the other wires inside the switch box but that didn't do anything to the always slightly on issue.


  2. #2
    I trim mangroves..... inothome's Avatar
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    Induction

    Those low voltages are being induced from another current carrying conductor running near those. The volt meter is sensitve enough and at a high impedance, meaning no load. If you hook up a light to those wires and then checked they should be zero. It's nothing to worry about.

  3. #3
    captain obvious Lurker's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. Makes total sense since the rest of that room is run through that box and I had the TV and stereo going when I was checking voltages. This explains why the lights on the fan aren't dimly lit with that 40v

  4. #4
    My Jet Ski drinks more than yours Glenozzy's Avatar
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    were you on the AC setting on your meter?
    are the switches lite?

  5. #5
    Ridin' the Rancocas 04RXP22's Avatar
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    Are any of the switches a dimmer switch?

  6. #6
    captain obvious Lurker's Avatar
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    These were normal on/off light switches and I had the meter on AC voltage, no dimmers. The only thing is that the entire living room comes together in that one switch box so there are a million wires in there.

  7. #7
    I trim mangroves..... inothome's Avatar
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    I've seen those voltages a lot of times. Anytime you run AC wires parallel next to each other that can happen. Even though the volt meter reads a votage there is no current behind it. Put any kind of load to it and the voltage will drop to zero. Tick tracers will pick up on it too and you'll think it's still energised.

  8. #8
    Still crazy after all these beers Mac Daddy Racing's Avatar
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    What kind of meters are you using? I have a Fluke 87 and have yet to see stray voltage in my wiring jobs. I have seen stray votage with the light stick (voltalert). Sounds like the neutral wire may be undersized for the room. What gauge wire is going to the room?? 12 I hope. If it's 14, it's too small with all the other things running.

    3M Maint Electrician for the past 11 years.

  9. #9
    I trim mangroves..... inothome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac Daddy Racing View Post
    What kind of meters are you using? I have a Fluke 87 and have yet to see stray voltage in my wiring jobs. I have seen stray votage with the light stick (voltalert). Sounds like the neutral wire may be undersized for the room. What gauge wire is going to the room?? 12 I hope. If it's 14, it's too small with all the other things running.

    3M Maint Electrician for the past 11 years.
    How would the neutral being undersized affect a voltage reading on a conductor that is switched off?

  10. #10
    canuck's Avatar
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    #14 is fine for residential wiring. A poor connection between neutral and ground at the main panel will cause some unusual voltage readings.

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