Did you just buy a new dmm?
FIRST READ THIS: http://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarchive/...ts~20030409.htm http://www.ecmweb.com/mag/electric_open_service_neutrals/
You could just be seeing the return voltage through a device..if you have a NON contact voltage tester handy you will probaly NOT see any voltage...if you are using a fluke then try a wiggy..this is common with dmm's..if this is the case there is not a problem..the meter is tricking you..some dmms will wrap around causing a false reading...use a simpson meter if you have one...dont use a fluke to test fuses in the circuit either...you can get false readings..indicating a good fuse when it is actually blown! always try and use an analog meter if you are in doubt they WONT lie most of the time..
if you have an outlet tester try using that it will tell you what is wrong..
when you make the connection between the neut and the ground you are completing the circuit and returning the unused power to the power co..in this case the neutral is OPEN...shut off the power and check continuity and see what you get...you must open both condcutors to do this...or you will read through the bond at the panel..
it sounds to me like you have a open nuetral or a backfeed or your meter is tricking you..
what type of service is it? 3 wire ? four wire? you MUST have three wire service to have a neutral...a neutral carries the unbalanced current..so nothin new by seeing voltage on a neutral..
Someone is/may be using the ground as a neutral somewhere on that service...
use caution when performing the next step...try to make sure there are no loads...use a amp probe..go turn off everthing you can...DO NOT OPEN THE NEUTRAL ON A LARGE LOAD!
shut off the MAIN...if you cant do that pull the meter...but do it without any loads..
go to the panel and remove each neutral from the bus...figure out which one is supplying the circuit you are working with...mark it...replace the others one by one AFTER you check your continuity between the questionable neutral and the ground...you will see which circuit is the prob..then trace it out and clear the ground that is tied to the neutral..chances are you will read through light bulbs and fluorescents etc..so watch out for that too..
if you find nothing..abandon that circuit and install a new one...that will solve it...remove that old circuit..sometimes this is quicker..
remove the grounds too and replace each one along with the corresponding neutral ONLY...do not get ahead of yourself...or you will get in a loop..
I hope you are a qualified person because if you are not I would not do this.
what you are describing is very common in situations where someone has done some creative wiring..
it is just a backfeed in simpler terms..
good luck and be careful..
[This message has been edited by mustangelectric (edited 03-17-2005).]