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Light switch does not seem to work, only 60V measured at the switch


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I just bought a new house. On one wall in the kitchen is panel with 3 switches. I have know what 2 of the switches do (both are ceiling lights), but the third one does not seem to do anything at all.

My first thought was that it controlled one of the outlets in the kitchen or family room right next to the kitchen, but after taking a small lamp around to every outlet that I could find I could not identify what the switch was for. During my testing, every outlet tested had power and lit up the lamp ( I did not test the voltage at the outlets, though).

So the next thing I did was take the cover plate off the switch panel and tested the voltage going to the switch in question. I tested by touching the wires going into the switch without removing them from the switch. With the switch in the on position I got zero voltage (Actually it was 0.016V), but when I put the switch in the off position I got 60.2V. I am not an electrician so I have no idea what this means. I do know that there are different types of switches (2-way and 3-way) and the one in question is a standard single switch. Now while I was checking the Voltage I did notice that some of the plastic body of the switch was cracked and broken and some of the material was actually missing. 

So I guess I have a couple of questions: 
1. What would cause the voltage to only be 60.2V? 
2. Could the broken material on the switch be causing what I am seeing?
3. How can I possibly determine what this switch is supposed to control? This is of course a very hard question for folks to answer but I am hoping maybe there is some trick for figuring this out. I am just worried that there may be some 'hidden' problem in the walls. Don't want an electrical fire.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

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Most likely you have a few screws loose John ;)

see: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Electrical-Wiring-Home-1734/2009/6/Circuit-reads-60-volts.htm

also  search on: "electrical problem 60 volts on 120"

good luck.


As this a common problem could a poor connection between copper (or better yet corroded copper; copper oxide) and plated steel act as a diode and the the results (at very low current) is a half wave rectifier? That would yield the 60 volts rms.

ref: http://www.tutorvista.com/physics/half-wave-rectifier-calculation



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