Electrical Wiring in the Home/Enchanted house?


QUESTION: Hello Robert,

All my lights and electrical equipment at home was working fine, and one good day, when I woke up, the A/C, the garbage disposer in the kitchen sink, and the dishwasher stopped working. The lights in the 2nd floor are dead also.

I used a tester pen (the kind that beeps if there's power) and tested the main breakers box inside the house, and outlets around the house.

There are 2 breakers (120v each) that control 2nd floor power. When these breakers are ON, only one tests OK for power in the breaker box, the other is dead. But the one that is dead, makes the tester beep if the other breaker for the 2nd floor is in the "ON" position too (both ON). I wonder why is this...

The 2 (120v) breakers refrigerator & garbage disposer when turned ON in the main panel, test like they have no power, but when they're in the OFF position, they make the tester beep!

The breaker for the dishswasher (120v) test dead when turned ON in the main panel, but if the breaker for either the water heater (220v) or the breaker for the A/C blower unit (120v) is in the ON position, the breaker for the dishwasher makes the tester beeep! and the panel buttons and indicators in the dishwasher start blinking!

The rest of the outlets and lights in the ground floor are working. My guess is that some breakers are bad/broken, like the dishwasher, and also that some electricity is being transferred somehow between lines that should be isolated, like between the dishwasher and the A/C...

I'm not sure is this is a "witch spell" in advance for Halloween, but I'd like to know your expert opinion of what's going on, if you please.



ANSWER: Sounds like symptoms of classic open service neutral.
Call an electrician and/or the utility

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Robert,

Thank you for your help. Is the "open service neutral" about the neutral inside the main panel or in any of the house's outlets?

Thank you,


Main service panel or subpanel, meter socket, any splice point in neutral back to and including transformer.
Can also be product of damaged neutral conductor anywhere back to transformer.
Rare instances of high voltage problems causing symptoms in 3-phase services

Afterthought- it sounds like one dead leg, with backfeed from good hot through loads.
Get expert help.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber


Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.


Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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