How to fix an open neutral | updated home page (2023)

A break in the neutral wire in an outlet is called an open neutral and can be a major fire hazard. You can fix this issue by reconnecting the cable, but it's an 11-step process that requires extreme security measures. Whether it's checking voltage, shutting down power, or managing wires, let's take a look at how to safely fix an open neutral.

How to fix an open neutral | updated home page (1)

In North America, 240 volts of electricity is supplied to a panel. The 240 volts are split into two 120 volt circuits.

Current flows to the panel through two hot wires. One wire is black and the other is red. And in the middle there is a total of 240 volts. Large appliances such as stoves use 240 volts and connecting the large appliance between the two wires completes the circuit.

Smaller devices operate on 120 volts, so a neutral wire is required. Sometimes a break in the neutral wire, also known as an open neutral wire, occurs.To fix an open neutral, you need to find the cause. Read on to find out how to determine the cause and fix the open neutral.

Need to hire an electrician?

Receive free, non-binding quotes from professional electricians in your area.


How to fix an open neutral | updated home page (2)

items you need

To fix an open neutral you will need the following items:

  • multimeter
  • Screwdriver
  • electrical knowledge

a word of caution

Before you start repairing your open neutral, it's important to consider safety. You certainly don't want to get hurt or worse. Let's take a look at a few things before we get started:

(Video) Understanding an Open or Loaded Neutral

  • If you don't know what you're doing when it comes to electricity, don't mess with it. You may need to swallow your pride and hire an electrician. However, for this article, we assume that you know what you are doing.
  • 120 volts is enough to kill you. A voltage as low as 42 volts can be deadly.
  • Never connect a neutral or white wire to a brass screw or a colored wire to a silver screw. This can lead to a dangerous situation.

Steps to Fix an Open Neutral

1. Check voltage

In an ordinary outlet, you should have zero volts from neutral to ground. And the hot-to-ground must be 120 volts. Use your multimeter to do this.check the voltageyour wires. If your neutral reads 120 volts, the neutral is disconnected.

2. Turn off the power

Once you've checked the voltage, it's important to turn off the power when working with electrical things. This is to protect you from serious injury such as electrical shock. Be sure to turn off the circuit breaker at the source.

3. Open the output cover

Use your screwdriverloosen screwskeeps outlet cover in place. The number of screws varies by socket. After removing the screws, remove the socket cover.

4. Make sure there is no voltage

When the outlet is open, use a voltage tester to make sure the circuit is dead. If the circuit is dead, the tester should read zero.

5. Unscrew the bushing

After opening the socket cover and checking the voltage, the socket must be unscrewed. Use your screwdriver to remove all screws holding the socket in place.

6. Look for an open neutral

Gently pull on the socket to expose the wires. Look for the neutral wire. Once you locate the neutral or white wire, check the wire for open circuits.

7. Reconnect the cables

If at this point the neutral wire is disconnected, reconnect the wire. This will fix the open neutral problem. Be sure to replace the outlet and outlet cover.

However, if the cable is connected, continue with the following steps.

8. Check the bushing

If there is no visible open neutral wire signal, try a jumper to see if the outlet is bad. If you turn the cross on and get a reading of 120 volts, your outlet is faulty and needs to be replaced.

9. Replace bushing (if necessary)

You should note where the black and white wires connect to the current outlet. Wires must be carefully removed from the power outlet.

(Video) How to Fix an Open Ground

When you insert the new socket, the socket has two screws on each side. One side has white screws. One side has gold screws. Be sure to connect the white wire to the white or silver screws. The black wire should go with the gold screws.

Check old outlet. Note that each of the snap tabs on the connector has broken. If they are cancelled, be sure to cancel them on the new recording as well. You can use needle nose pliers to bend the tab back and forth until it comes off.

Then connect the wires to the terminals in the new outlet. You can slide the socket back into the electrical box and replace the cover.

10. Check other outlets (if necessary)

If you can't find the problem in this socket, you shouldCheck nearby outlets🇧🇷 Repeat the steps above.

11. Turn on the power supply

Once the open neutral has been identified and rectified, power can be turned back on.

Related questions

Can an open neutral cause a fire?

If the neutral wire is loose, it can cause an unusual arc around its connection point. This makes the neutral conductor exceptionally hot. When it gets that hot, it burns through your insulation and can cause damage to surrounding areas.

The arc is very short but extremely hot. It does damage every time. Eventually, a large, long-lasting electrical arc is created, which can start a fire.

Can a bad outlet cause other outlets not to work?

A bad outlet can cause other outlets not to work. If more than one socket is not working, the sockets can be connected in series. It's like the old Christmas lights, where if one goes out, they all go out.

Once you figure out which outlet is the first in the series to fail, that will most likely be the source of your open neutral.

What are the signs of an open neutral?

An open neutral signal changes the brightness of the lights in your home. If your lights are getting exceptionally bright, that's a good sign of an open neutral. The lights won't be bright all the time, but they will get brighter at odd times. For example, lights will brighten when an appliance is turned on or another circuit is turned on. The light changes are a result of the open neutral causing abnormally high and low voltages.

Another sign of an open neutral is electrocution. With an open neutral, current can still flow through the device, but current cannot flow back through the panel. As the device is still charged, it will result in electric shock.

(Video) How to troubleshoot and find the open in a electrical circuit for a outlet.

Need to hire an electrician?

Receive free, non-binding quotes from professional electricians in your area.


How to fix an open neutral | updated home page (3)

What are the tabs on an electrical outlet?

Each side of an outlet contains a pair of outlet screws. The top screw connects to the top outlet and the bottom screw connects to the bottom outlet. The screws are connected by a predetermined break tab.

The guide allows you to connect a single wire to one of the screws. This will supply power to both sockets. If the tab is broken, the top and bottom outlets can be connected to separate wires. This allows them to be controlled independently.

Related guides

  • Can neutral and ground wires be connected together?
  • Neutral and ground on the same bar in the subpanel?

best home team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement professionals, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housework, decor, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on how to fix a device or how much it costs to install a fence, we're here to help.

recently released

Link to How do you get rid of hard limescale in the shower?

How do you get rid of hard limescale in the shower?

Clogged showerheads can be caused by deposits of calcium, magnesium, limestone, silica and other minerals in hard water, especially well water. This mineral deposit can block the channel, which will banish it...

keep reading

Link to the standard size of a table runner

Standard table runner size

A table runner will add a festive touch to your table decor, provide spill protection, and help hold your design together. You can find them in different sizes to fit different tables, so...

(Video) Test for "Open Neutral" by utility personal


1. Broken Neutrals Bad Connections and Broken Splices
(Terry Peterman)
2. Finding receptacle open ground.
3. Troubleshooting An Open Neutral On An RV Inverter
(My RV Works, Inc.)
4. Troubleshoot Home Electrical Wiring - Open Ground Circuit
(Know How Now)
5. Adding A Neutral Wire To A Light Switch - How To
(One Hour Smart Home)
6. Hot and Ground Reversed is Not True
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated: 12/06/2022

Views: 6214

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.