Ground voltage!!


I move to a new apartment and all the ground outlets have almost 80 volts of current!! Is this normal? What can I do?

 Thank you very much.



Firesign Theatre

Actually what is a ground outlet?

It doesn’t sound like it could possibly have volts OR amps. Or it's not grounded.


My guess is you've measured the wrong thing.  A modern wall outlet has 3 receptacles.  The two slotted ones are where the line AC voltage appears, across hot and neutral.  (The bigger slot is "hot", I think.) The third, semicircular receptacle is earth ground.  Please clarify where you placed the probes of your meter in order to see 80V (you'll never ever see 80 amperes of current at a receptacle, because that would have blown any circuit breaker ever in a domestic dwelling, not to mention most meters).  There should be no voltage between earth and neutral, but certain defects in wiring can in fact produce voltages in between 0 and 120V across those two poles.

kota, if you are selling line conditioners here, I don't think Audiogon will like it.  Nor is a line conditioner at all relevant to the question.

If that is true, then you have a discontinuity somewhere between neutral and earth ground.  Could be anywhere all the way back to the circuit breaker box for your apartment building.  Or could be local.  You might call it to the attention of your landlord.  (Check other outlets for the same issue.)  Ask a real electrician if it's safe for now.

I would call an electrician; or call your landlord. If what you say is true, there is a serious safety issue. if you rent, its really not your responsability (but it is your problem).

Now, let's also think diagnostically. Have you measured this on more than one outlet?  Are they the same?  I presume you are measuring AC volts? 

I would also measure with a small draw (large impedance) across the two leads (must do this safely, well insulated). Consider maybe 100,000 ohms. This will give an idea of the actual current capability of the issue.  at 100,000 ohms even a 1/4w resistor will handle the total power (about 60 mW @ 80V farmers math)

The neutral and earth ground ought to be connected.

And to confirm the above the larger slot in a polarized socket is neutral =~ ground (at the pole anyway).


The 80VAC may be a bit low - How to Test for Ground | DoItYourself.comDiagnosing Power Problems at the Receptacle | Fluke.

Ground to hot should read near same as hot to neutral while ground to neutral should read <2VAC (mine read ~9mVAC)


Thanks, your mention of Waiting for an electrician or someone like him, it put a big smile on my face. I was a big fan of Proctor & Bergman.


You ARE suffering from:

Flushing, blushing, high stool, delayed borgorigmus and shortness of pants.


Sorry for the confusion is 80 volts earth and neutral.


Just a guess your multimeter was set on auto scale and you read 80 mV (millivolts). Not 80 volts.

Look to the right of the measured 80 do you see mV? 80 mV?

While using the multimeter you might want do some measuring. Check for the HOT to neutral contacts AC line voltage at the outlet as well as for the correct Hot/neutral AC polarity

1) Insert one meter test probe in the HOT, small blade slot, and the other in the neutral, larger blade slot. You should measure 120V nominal. (Somewhere around 120V)

2) Check for the correct Hot/neutral AC polarity. Insert one meter test probe in the HOT, small blade slot, and the other test probe in the equipment ground hole contact. Make sure you are making a good connection on both contacts. If polarity is correct you will measure 120V nominal. (This will also tell you have an equipment ground.)


Yes, everything you know is Wrong.

Kick back with a nice warm Bear Wizz and wait for the daily miracle, even if it's paisley yet again.

Seriously, can you plug a typical lamp into that socket without a fail?

And 'hot' is the small slot on the right....unless the socket is for 240vac single phase and ought to be configured for such and looks 'odd'....

I'm not an electrician (got tired of waiting), but can look like one....

Sometimes a corroded neutral wire at the service junction can raise the neutral voltage. But one would see browning out of lights as the high current devices kick in.
The ground does not usually raise up thoiugh.

@bushikai   Responses here suggest sticking probes in outlets.  DON'T.

From what you write here and your obvious confusion, I really don't think you should be playing around with electricity.  Your house wiring clearly has a fault.  Switch off the power and call a qualified electrician immediately.

This thread is excellent at demonstrting how clueless this forum is about electricity.  It will be hard for the OP to figure out what to do based on the various answers here.  

It appears you have properly measured 80 volts ground to neutral.  I would probably check my meter before raising a red flag.  Does it read 118 or similar hot to neutral?  does it read 118 hot to ground?  

One guy suggested not to stick your electrical probed into an outlet.  that is what electrical probes are made for and you already have done it. that is how you measure electricity.  carry on.

Once you confirm it isn't just a bad meter, do what @erik_squires said.  He is one that undertands.  if it is real, it is a big deal for a lot of reasons.


Post removed 

This thread is excellent at demonstrting how clueless this forum is about electricity. It will be hard for the OP to figure out what to do based on the various answers here.

It appears you have properly measured 80 volts ground to neutral.

It appears you have properly measured 80 volts ground to neutral.

No it doesn’t!

I don’t know about all multimeters, definitely don’t know about yours, but from the three that I own when the meters are first turned on and set to measure AC volts all three default to auto range...

The 80 volts he thinks he is reading could actually be 80 mV, (0.08 volt)...

It can’t get any simpler than my post above.


Responses here suggest sticking probes in outlets. DON’T.

From what you write here and your obvious confusion, I really don’t think you should be playing around with electricity.

Then I guess he shouldn’t even be inserting a plug into an outlet. He might get shocked!🙄

Once again, an article that asks the WRONG question. It should have read, "How do I measure my wall receptacle and make sense of what I am seeing. Instead he makes a nonsensical assumption based on ignorance. Sorry if that stings a little but it is true.

As stated above only one of those holes in your socket is live and when tested against any of the other two it should read (in the USA) 110v or close to that. If your situation was actually speaking of 80 VOLTS then yo are running a severe UNDERVOLTAGE and this can be quite harmful to a lot of your devices especially motors in your Refer and AC units. Under voltage can actually be MORE harmful than overvoltage. CALL you Utility provider and have them test you supply. if that is satisfactory, then you must immediately find out WHAT in you home is causing this drain. It should NEVER get below 100V and even at that it should not sustain that for any length of time.

If you do really read 80V between neutral and ground, this indicates a problem, suggesting that neutral and ground are not tied together as they should be. Most everyone has said that in one way or the other. Mea culpa for misidentifying the long slot in a 3 prong receptacle, but I did indicate my own uncertainty and did suggest to engage an electrician. I’m betting this is all a red herring anyway.

Here, get this and see what it tells you.  AFAIK it is the cheapest 3 prong tester which has built-in neutral to ground (N-E) voltage measurements:


Reverse Neutral and Ground/Earth is one of the common problems in wiring, would it be at home or at a factory.  Outlet checkers as shown above don't test for this problem.  There are ways to test for it, but you have to be quite familiar with electricity - don't try to do it if you aren't. 

Get a cheap and a physically small AC clamp meter either on Amazon or at Harbor Freight (or wherever you go to for such things).  Precision isn't that important here - settle for the cheapest one.  In a distribution box (you may need to take the protective cover off) measure currents on Live, Neutral, and the ground wire while you have some loads at your house on.  The currents on L and N should be ~same; there shouldn't be any appreciable current in ground wire - just a very few mA.  Such N-G reversal can happen just about anywhere in the long connection from your distribution panel to your outlet.  There are plenty junction boxes with twist-caps (the usual suspects - not the caps, but the miswired connections).  Your outlet may be miswired just as easily. 

Again, you need to be quite fluent in dealing with all things electrical to do such test. 

More stuff posted for this poor chap.

Like this by @vk_onfilter   "Again, you need to be quite fluent in dealing with all things electrical to do such test."

Why doesn't OP just get a qualified electrician for C*****s sake????

Not rocket science.  AND END OF STORY

Happy ending.

Mijostyn, I’ve always wondered about the origin of the phrase “red herring”, but it does appeal to me. The only time I ever drank so much that I barfed was after also eating canned herring. That was in college, and I haven’t eaten canned herring since that incident. Nor have I ever gotten as intoxicated.