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  #1   IP: 12.111.220.126
Old July 13th, 2005, 05:04 AM
mcarrio mcarrio is offline
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Default Hot/Ground Reversed

This is existing wiring and has not been modified in years. Monday several outlets on the circuit stopped working, while others still worked fine.
It did not trip the breaker. I used a tester. Working outlets showed correct. Failed outlets show hot/ground reversed. Tuesday, I went to troubleshoot the problem and all outlets were working and tested correct. I did the following: Since the wiring strings from outlet to outlet, I went to the last working outlet, (on Monday), and inspected the connections. The wires were pushed in the back of the outlet and not screwed onto the outlet, and the neutral wire going to the next outlets in line was barely in the hole. I attached all wires to the screws. I also checked all other outlets and removed wires from rear holes and also attached them to the screws. I checked a junction box which feeds some outlets and retightened the wire nuts and taped. I used the tester again and all test fine. I used a meter, and tested ground, neutral to hot = 120 V, hot to ground = 120 V, neutral to ground 0 V. I also replaced the breaker.
Questions:
In your opinion does it appear to have been a loose neutral wire ?
Is there anything else I can / should check ?

thx, Mark
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  #2   IP: 136.1.1.101
Old July 13th, 2005, 08:14 AM
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Roger Roger is offline
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Yes you had a bad neutral connection or open due to those backstabbed outlets. These are notorious for this problem. You did the right thing moving the wires to the screws. When you use those outlet testers and the lights tell you that you have a hot/ground reverse this really is a open neutral indication. When you think about it getting the ground and hot connections reversed would be pretty darn hard to do, especially when you had a working circuit and then it stops working and you havent touched a thing. There are some people that think there are little green creatures running around in your wiring messing with you. The reason you get this hot/ground reverse as I understand is that with other loads plugged in to the circuit...lights, battery chargers etc when your neutral opens somewhere in the circuit you can actully read 120 volts from neutral to ground from backfeed through these other loads on the circuit. Your tester sees that voltage and indicates you have a hot/ground reverse. If you unplug all the loads on the circuit and unscrew the light bulbs and prevent this backfeed then the tester will change to an open neutral indication. Does this make sense to you?

Last edited by Roger : July 13th, 2005 at 08:43 AM. Reason: Spelling
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  #3   IP: 12.111.220.126
Old July 13th, 2005, 08:31 AM
mcarrio mcarrio is offline
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Thanks very much for your input. I understand what you are saying. I figured I was on the right track, but I wanted to here it from someone who knows about these things. This site was suggested from a co-worker. Great site !

thx, again, Mark
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  #4   IP: 65.11.69.233
Old February 16th, 2008, 02:40 AM
SuperNinja SuperNinja is offline
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Thanks for the info, mcarrio and Roger.

I had the same problem today.
I messed around with trying to find the correct circuit breaker, and metering individual breakers, and pretty much wasting time.

So I did a search on the internet and found this thread, and using the info you posted, I was able to quickly find the source of the problem. (One outlet that had bad connections, wires plugged into the back of the outlet)

I moved the wires over to the screws, and everything worked fine after that.





Edit:
Looks like I spoke too soon.
The problem came back today, after a hair dryer was used on the circuit.
The hair dryer works ok on other circuits though.

Last edited by SuperNinja : February 16th, 2008 at 05:08 PM.
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  #5   IP: 71.60.58.53
Old August 23rd, 2009, 07:42 AM
Shontzy Shontzy is offline
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Default Thanks! Hot/Ground Reversed = Open Neutral

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger View Post
The reason you get this hot/ground reverse as I understand is that with other loads plugged in to the circuit...lights, battery chargers etc when your neutral opens somewhere in the circuit you can actully read 120 volts from neutral to ground from backfeed through these other loads on the circuit. Your tester sees that voltage and indicates you have a hot/ground reverse. If you unplug all the loads on the circuit and unscrew the light bulbs and prevent this backfeed then the tester will change to an open neutral indication. Does this make sense to you?

Thanks a lot for this explanation. I was working on a sudden problem at my house for a LONG time and could not understand how the hot and ground could have gotten reversed. This really just means there is an open Neutral (white wire) somewhere on the circuit. When you have another area of the circuit with a load, that's when it would read hot/ground reverse. I had a light switch on the circuit, and when the light was "on" (the lights weren't working but there was power) the tester read "hot/ground reverse". When the light was off, it just read open neutral which was the correct reading.

To fix this problem, find the first outlet on the circuit that DOES work and make sure the neutral wire is properly connected. (The problem will either be with the first one that does work, or the first one that doesn't work which you have probably already checked at this point.) For me, this outlet worked but the neutral wire going to the rest of the circuit was loose so none of the other wires on the circuit worked. Once I tightened the wire, everything came back on.
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  #6   IP: 24.252.192.57
Old October 31st, 2009, 02:30 PM
flyrobert flyrobert is offline
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Smile Great info

great Info the same thing happend to me, I took of every outlet cover {5} and ceiling fixture even my outside lights all tested and all showed up as hot/ground reversed, came across this site, and wa-la I went to the only outlet that worked on the same circut. i would have never looked at that outlet, my next step was an electrician, on a saturday holloween day, $125.00 just to come out ouch... . ., and sure enought the ground wire was look it just fell out when i took the recepticle out and screwed it to the switch
and working lights
Thanks so much........
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  #7   IP: 69.244.213.104
Old September 29th, 2010, 05:09 PM
MPhillips MPhillips is offline
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Default Hot/Ground reversed

By 2008 electrical code, all living spaces (bedrooms) must be on AFI breakers. One guest bedroom is completely dead and reading hot/ground reverse. I will try checking loose neutral connections tomorrow. The lighting on the master bedroom is also on AFI and periodically trips (the bedroom did not trip). I changed one light switch jumper in the bathroom (which used aluminium conductor) to copper (haven't checked the rest). Should I check/replace the others? Also, should I check the wiring in the bedrooms and tape over exposed wiring behind switches/receptacles? My previous homes didn't have AFI and this problem never arose.
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  #8   IP: 98.247.156.92
Old September 29th, 2010, 08:45 PM
suemarkp suemarkp is offline
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Note that the circuit neutral on AFCI circuits gets terminated on the AFCI breaker and not the main neutral bus. So look in the right place...

I would not expect to see any aluminum wire in a house with AFCI's, unless they were retrofitted. If you see silvery wire on light fixtures, it is usually tin plated wire. Hardly anyone uses aluminum in the smaller sizes anymore.

What do you mean by "exposed wiring behind switches/receptacles"? Are there bare wires (other than grounds) in the box? Or was too much insulation stripped off the wire and there is visible bare conductor sticking out below the wire nuts?

Generally, you don't need to tape anything in a device box if things are made up properly.

What type of light is "going out"? If they are recessed cans, they have a thermal cutout which could trip if you insulated around non-IC cans or have too large of a lamp in it. If they are normal exposed ceiling fixtures, look for poor connections in the ceiling box. That is real easy to have happen with the crappy wire nuts they give you and the small wires involved. Use decent sized wire nuts with metal coils inside them. You'll need to go to the larger ones if you have two #14 or #12 wires in the ceiling box. Make sure the smaller light fixture wires wrap well around the power wire(s) and are a bit longer so the nut grabs it instead of pushes it forward.
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  #9   IP: 24.224.76.42
Old January 22nd, 2011, 05:50 AM
drm79 drm79 is offline
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Default hot/ground reversed

I had a similar problem. The tester gave me the code for hot/ground reversed but the problem was that I had a bad wire nut on the white wires in a junction box.
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  #10   IP: 99.28.12.146
Old July 21st, 2011, 10:19 AM
speleobopper speleobopper is offline
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Default Neutral Hot Reverse Problem

I had this issue occur last night on a 30Amp circuit I installed in my basement. I use this circuit for my home office because I tend to pull a lot of power running computers, routers, printers and a network attached storage (NAS) device.

All of a sudden everything went out on me in the middle of some work I was doing on the computer. All of the outlets were dead and when I put the tester in them they all indicated that I had a Neutral Hot Reversal problem. I know that all of the outlets were okay prior to this.

One thing I noticed is that one outlet in particular was not reading anything when I plugged the tester into it. After killing the power on that circuit and looking I saw that the ground had come loose from the screw which I promptly fixed. This didn't fix the general problem, it just read the same as all the other ones now...Neutral Hot Reverse.

Because it was all of the outlets and not the one that had the faulty ground, I surmised that I must have a problem at the breaker box. After removing the panel and killing the main power I found that the neutral wire was not screwed down tight. After tightening the screw in the breaker box all my outlets finally came back on and tested okay.
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