Hot/neutral reversed


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Old 12-09-04, 01:52 PM
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Hot/neutral reversed

I just bought a new home, and was checking all of the outlets using a plug-in device that has 3 lights, with different series of lights on or off meaning diffreent issues (can't remember what they call that thing). Anyway, one of them shows "hot/neutral reversed" - what does that mean? I thought you could attach either wire to either side of an outlet - it didn't matter to always keep hot on the left or right, particularly for a "dead-end" receptacle (not continuing anywhere else). I'm pretty positive this is a dedicated line from the circuit breaker box to this one outlet.
 
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Old 12-09-04, 02:12 PM
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No, you cannot attach either wire to either side of a receptacle. If the cord on an electrical device plugged in is polarized or three wire then you create a potentially serious situation.

For things like lamps, for example, it is much safer to have the connector deep inside the light bulb socket for the hot, and the sides of the socket for the return. This helps to minimize accidental shocks.

Some items don't care.

The brass screws on a receptacle are for the hot wire. These coincide with the smaller of the two parallel slots on the receptacle face.

The silver screws are for the return. These coincide with the larger of the two parallel slots on the receptacle.

The green ground screw is for the ground wire(s) to be connected, and this feeds the third D shaped ground hole on the receptacle.

There is no right or left on a receptacle, as it can be mounted either side up, or even sideways. Plus you would have the question of looking from the front or looking from the back, etc.

You should find and correct this problem. The problem may be at the receptacle in question, or it may be at the receptacle or outlet that feeds this receptacle. If this is the only thing on the circuit, then the problem may be at the main panel, although it's much harder to accidentally make this mistake at the panel.
 

Last edited by racraft; 12-09-04 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 12-09-04, 02:42 PM
machine3
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Hot neutral reversed

Where can i get one of those things that check that?
What's it called?
What did it cost?

Thanks
 
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Old 12-09-04, 02:46 PM
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You can pick it up at any hardware store - can't remember the cost, but definitely was under $20 - might have been around $10.
 
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Old 12-09-04, 06:01 PM
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Receptacle tester tests for polarity & open ground, or
GFCI / receptacle tester tests for the above but also tests trip function of a GFCI receptacle.
 
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Old 12-09-04, 06:29 PM
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All home centers carry them. Most just call them "outlet testers". The ones with the GFCI test button (the more expensive kind) cost about eight bucks. Every tool box should have one.
 
 

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