Hot/Grd Reverse ?

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  #1  
Old 12-09-05, 09:05 AM
AKA009
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Exclamation Hot/Grd Reverse ?

Okay, I know an electrical oil heater overloaded our breaker.
20 amp servicing about 5 outlets.

My wife states she has flipped it back on about 5 times overall when the outlets lost power. She states the breaker itself is never flipped off, but flipping it off then back on would restore power to those outlets.

So the last time she couldn't get it to come back on flipping the breaker.
So she left it.

So when I get home I plug in my outlet tester and it shows a Hot/Grd Reverse on all those outlets.

So I went and flipped the breaker off and on, still no power to any of the outlets, just still shows Hot/Grd Reverse. So I go and flip the breaker off for about 20 minutes or so, while I turn one outlet right side up (rental).

Of course with the breaker off it doesn't show anything on the tester.

Now I go and flip the breaker on and we have power on those outlets again.
I plug in the tester and it shows Correct on all those outlets.

Next I plug our tv back into one of the outlets ( I had unplugged everything prior ) and the power goes back off. I check outlets again and its Hot/Grd Reverse.

Never had the tv done this before and the heater was not plugged in.

The only recent change is the heater, TV, vcr, directv receiver have all been running fine on it before.

What is happening here? Did the breaker go bad from all the flipping on and off prior or something?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-09-05, 09:09 AM
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You have an intermittent open neutral. The neutral wire is loose at one (or more) connections. The most likely culprit is a failed back stab.

Check each and every receptacle or junction box on the circuit. Move any and all back stabbed connections to the screw terminals. Check any wire nuts that hold neutral wires and make sure that they are tight, perhaps even redo them with new wire nuts.
 
  #3  
Old 12-09-05, 09:15 AM
AKA009
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Back Stab?

Can you tell me what a failed back stab is?

Ty
 
  #4  
Old 12-09-05, 09:19 AM
AKA009
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The only recent change is the heater, TV, vcr, directv receiver have all been running fine on it before.
I worded that wrong, should of been:

The only recent change is the heater. The tv, vcr & directv receiver had been running on it fine before.
 
  #5  
Old 12-09-05, 09:33 AM
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Some receptacles have push in connectors on the back of the receptacle, where you insert a 14 gage wire and a spring holds the wire in place. These connections are notorious for failing, especially under load. Most of us here recommend that you use the screw terminals instead of the back stab connectors. There is a small slot what you insert a small flat screw driver into which releases the connector holding the wire.
 
  #6  
Old 12-09-05, 11:27 AM
AKA009
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Smile

Thank you very much.

Just went through 7 outlets.

The first outlet in the series had burnt wires and burnt plastic on the back of the receptacle where the wires were stabbed into it.

Barely pulled it out and twisted it up and they came out, white wires.
Burnt back about 5 inches.

I replaced the receptacle, didn't have enough spare wire to cut it back so just wrapped it in electrical tape.

Tried it out and everything seems to be working good at the moment.

racraft, thank you for your help.
 
  #7  
Old 12-09-05, 11:46 AM
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Some bells are going off in my head. I just re-read your posts and have some concerns.

You state a 20 amp circuit. However, you also state that wires were back stabbed. Further, you state that the problem was at the first receptacle in the series.

Back stab connectors are designed for 14 gage wire. 12 gage wire is not supposed to fit them.

The first receptacle on a circuit carries the most current. Depending on what you have plugged in and where you have it plugged in, the first receptacle could carry the entire load.

Before you consider this little project finished, please make sure that the wire on the circuit is 12 gage. If the wire is only 14 gage, then please switch the breaker to a 15 amp breaker.

It almost sounds like someone incorrectly replaced the breaker with a 20 amp breaker, probably because the 15 amp breaker that is supposed to be there was tripping all the time. If this is the case, then you have a very unsafe situation and a very real fire hazard.

Please investigate this circuit. Something is amiss.
 
  #8  
Old 12-09-05, 12:14 PM
AKA009
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So then I take it the 14gauge wire goes with a 15 amp breaker?

And a 12 gauge wire has a 20 amp breaker?


Will check it out and report back.
 
  #9  
Old 12-09-05, 12:20 PM
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Yes, for copper wire.
 
  #10  
Old 12-09-05, 07:03 PM
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Years ago #12 was allowed to be backstabbed into recepticles. They could also be on 20 amp breakers. How old is the house. I also see you are renting the house. I'm not sure you would be allowed to do this work yourself.
 

Last edited by jbfan; 12-09-05 at 07:53 PM.
  #11  
Old 12-10-05, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
Back stab connectors are designed for 14 gage wire. 12 gage wire is not supposed to fit them.

Bob...This has only been true for the last several years. When I last worked at a hardware store in 1996/1997, we were just starting to get 15A recepticals with backstabs that only fit #14 wire. The older ones would take #12 or #14.

See this image. That's the back of a Leviton 15A 125V duplex receptical that was original to my 1975 house.

I imagine using #14 wire with backstabs designed for #12 OR #14 made the potential for failed backstabs worse than todays backstabs that are (hopefully) specifically designed for #14 wire. I still wouldn't use them though.
 
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