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Thread: Hot/ground reversed

  1. #1

    Default Hot/ground reversed

    Here's the skinny. I did not do any work on the house for months. One morning before after I went to work, all power in the living room circuit went out. I bought a plug tester and I am getting the hot/ground reversed reading in all outlets on the circuit. None of the outlets on the circuit work. All three lights on the circuit do not work either.
    What I've done so far:
    - I opened up all of my outlets and moved the backstabbed wires to the side screws.
    - I've checked all of the lights for to see if there was a loose wire, but all were installed properly.
    - I tested the breaker with a voltmeter and there is a current going through.
    - There is a GFCI outlet outside on the same circuit. It also reads hot/ground reversed. The test button on this outlet won't press in. I replaced the GFCI outlet, but the light on the new outlet is on and the test button on the new outlet won't press in. I don't know if the GFCI is at the beginning/ middle/ or end of the circuit.

    Any ideas of what to try now? I'm hoping the GFCI outlet issues will hint at a solution.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    4,782

    Default

    Hot/GRD reverse is the classic indication of a loose neutral.
    Could be in the panel if entire circuit is out.
    Could be in a working device or any junction box if part of circuit is out.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by joed View Post
    Hot/GRD reverse is the classic indication of a loose neutral.
    Could be in the panel if entire circuit is out.
    Could be in a working device or any junction box if part of circuit is out.
    Is there any easy way to test for this?

    Where would I find a junction box??

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    8,431

    Default

    Your regular switch, light, and receptacles boxes can be junction boxes. Worse would be a box buried in the wall or ceiling that you can't uncover.

    Try to find the closest box to the panel and check voltage from hot to neutral. If you have not to ground, but no hot to neutral voltage, then neutral us still not making contact somewhere. Tracking this down can be difficult. I'd start at the panel first, making sure that neutral is well secured to its bus bar and not sharing with another wire.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

  5. #5

    Default

    Everyone, thanks for your help. I went back to the breaker box and found the neutral attached to bar was burnt! This circuit was where most of our electronics were on ...tv, receiver, ps3, pc, modem, router, lamps.

    I clipped the burnt part, stripped the wire and reattached. Everything works great now.

    But to avoid this same thing again, any suggestions? More GFCI outlets?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    4,782

    Default

    GFCI will not help avoid this. Check all the neutral connection in the panel. Any that are doubled up should be separated so that only one per connection. Do not disconnect a neutral with power on.

  7. #7

    Default same problem - power present, nothing works

    Thanks for the potings here, I had the same problem.
    As someone said here before, if all the circuits used to work fine and suddenly all the outlets etc show power, nothing plugged works, and the diagnose is reversed hot and ground, most likely something happepend to the neutral (white) wire either at a central junction box (metal box), or the main switch board.

    Following this lead, I disconnected the main power to the house, from outside the house. With a tester, I still verified that the switch board in the garage was indeed disconnected. Then I removed the metal plate covering the switch board and started to visually inspect all the white wires (they are usually connected to a central location in the switch box, which looks like a 4 - 5 inches long metal bar filled with screws). I saw a neutral wire that looked a bit yellow in the extremity which is exposed and connected. I took it out, and the surface of the exposed wire, where the screws touch it, was black, which indicates oxidation.
    I cut off that part, exposed new wire, placed it carefully where it used to connect and thightened the screw again. closed the switch box and turned on the main power - And all works ok now!!
    As a precaution, I went to all the outlets conneted to that breaker and tested them for correct connectivity, just in case something was done wrong.

    Thanks for the tip, it is great to fix it yourself!

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