Hot neutral reversed but wiring correct

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Old 08-09-14, 09:02 AM
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Hot neutral reversed but wiring correct

Just bought an old NYC apartment built in the 60's. I believe it was updated in the 80's, but not really sure.

My surge protector indicated building fault wiring,and hot neutral reversed in all outlets except the kitchen and the window ac units, so I started doing a little investigating.

First, I wanted to verify I have a good ground to earth. I did not see any ground wires in my outlets, and suspect the outlet box is grounded itself. I ran a jumper from the circuit breaker box chassis to all of my outlet grounds and they all showed continuity. I think the grounds are all ok.

The first outlet that I wanted to inspect, that was indicating hot neutral reversed, I went ahead and pulled it out. To my surprise, the wiring colors look correct. The black is going to the narrow slot, and white wire to the wide slot. The odd part is that the kitchen outlet that tested good, also had the correct wire color polarity.

I then wanted to determine the polarity of my faulty outlet. I plugged an extension cord into the known good kitchen outlet, ran it and set it on the floor next to my reverse polarity outlet. I put my multimeter probe into the extension cord wide slot, and the other multimeter probe into the narrow slot on the faulty outlet, and I see no voltage. I remove the lead from the narrow slot and insert into the wide, and I see 124V. Thus, probing from wide to wide slot shows a voltage. To me, this confirms that the outlet has reversed polarity.

However, I am still confused as to why. Recall that all the wiring colors at every outlet were color coded properly (black going to narrow slot), but only a couple outlets had correct polarity voltage. Would this mean it was wired wrong at the circuit breaker box for most of the outlets and the others were done correctly? I have no way to tell, as I only have access to the circuit breaker switches, and cannot see any wiring, and am not going to attempt to pull the box out. It looks like it has not been disrupted in along time, and I am not going to do it myself.

Just looking for some input here. Wondering if I should just swap the wires that show hot neutral reverse, or have an electrician come out and look. It seems easy enough, but I am not sure if I could have more issues than I realize.

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Old 08-09-14, 09:23 AM
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Would this mean it was wired wrong at the circuit breaker box for most of the outlets and the others were done correctly?
Possibly, have you checked your main panel yet? At your receptacle that you suspect has reversed polarity, measure the voltage between the narrow slot and ground, you should get 120 volts. Now, measure the voltage bewteen the wide slot and ground, you should have 0, or close to 0, voltage here.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 09:45 AM
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I have 120 between wide and ground and zero between narrow and ground.

I cannot check the wires at the panel. No access. It's recessed into the wall and looks like it's never been pulled out.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 10:02 AM
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I cannot check the wires at the panel. No access. It's recessed into the wall and looks like it's never been pulled out.
That should not be true. It would be a code violation and should be corrected. Can you post a picture of what you are talking about. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...-pictures.html
 
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Old 08-09-14, 10:04 AM
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Reverse polarity is associated with an open neutral many times.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 10:16 AM
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Here is a pic. I guess I shouldn't have said I don't have access. I really mean that I don't know if I want to pull it out. I see the 4 screws, but it looks as if it hasn't been disrupted in a very long time and I don't know if it's a good idea for a novice to try.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 10:57 AM
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I have 120 between wide and ground and zero between narrow and ground.
What do you have between Wide and narrow?

don't know if I want to pull it out. I see the 4 screws, but it looks as if it hasn't been disrupted in a very long time and I don't know if it's a good idea for a novice to try
Cut around the cover with a utility knife and remove but if you are uncomfortable removing the cover you may need to call an electrician. Do you have a disconnect or second panel at the meter? Is this an apartment or a house?
 
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Old 08-09-14, 11:09 AM
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I have 120 between wide and narrow. Same as between wide and ground.

This is an old nyc apartment. All I have within my apartment is in that pic. Have no idea what may be attached or not in another part of the building.

Someone mentioned that it may be an open neutral. Is this likely, and can a circuit tester determine that?
 
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Old 08-09-14, 11:17 AM
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This is an old nyc apartment
STOP! You are not allowed to touch the electric. Call your landlord to fix the problem. NYC code and probably city ordinances do not allow you to work on the electric. Then there is the civil liability.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
STOP! You are not allowed to touch the electric. Call your landlord to fix the problem. NYC code and probably city ordinances do not allow you to work on the electric. Then there is the civil liability.
Even though I own it? I bought the apartment/Coop.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 12:15 PM
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Even though I own it? I bought the apartment/Coop.
Probably best to call an electrician. Even though you own the apartment in a coop, anything you do could have implications to the entire building, such as a fire, both civil and criminal liability. Better not to assume full liability for the whole building when trying to save a buck.
 
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