Residential wiring problem. Power in both positive and negative outlet. Answered
Helping Pops out on this one...
He's got a spare room with a small adjoining bathroom. The wiring breakdown on the fusebox indicates that these two rooms are wired as part of the same circuit on the main breaker. In the two rooms there are: 2 outlets, 1 GFI outlet, and 4 switches controlling 2 lights and 1 bathroom ceiling fan. In the last few months this room has been experiences some abnormalities in power: flickering lights, occasional outage, GFI tripped. The outages usually lasted less than an hour and would occur with or without any load and any time. GFI trips sometimes, but other lights will work on the circuit when it's just the GFI.
Recently all power to this room has stopped. The main breaker never trips.
With everything unplugged (including the ceiling fan) I checked the outlets in the room. Screwdriver voltage tester was used. The probe registers a 'charge' in the outlet and 'no power' on the return. Normal.
However when any load (light, clock, tv) is applied all outlets instantly register a charge in both the positive and the return. Not normal.
The breaker doesn't trip, resetting breaker or GFI doesn't work, and the positive and negative terminals of the outlets are both registering as charged.
House is 10 years old with no previous wiring issues, in Canada.
Can anyone tell me what's wrong?
edit: January 24, 2011
Problem has been located and fixed.
Closer inspection of the breaker panel revealed that the neutral was loose, and had started to melt the casing of the wire. The wire was clipped and spliced, and now things are back to normal.
Thanks for everyone's input, best answer awarded!