Wall plugs in Dining Room reading Hot/Grn Reversed

working fine yesterday...what could've caused this and what is recommended remedy?
  11 answers
  • It is very common to find this in older homes. The cause is that when the new outlets were installed they were done wrong. And to no fault of anyone other then the home owner who did it. Older wires when you look at them had a black wire (hot) and white wire (Neutral) But you really need to look at them closer. A covering over the old wires was backwards. There was oftentimes a covering over the wires that appeared to be black and white. But if you removed this covering you would find exactly the opposite was true. The wire coated with white had black wire and the black coated wire was really white. Go figure. If your outlets are non-grounded, and your only using them for a clock radio, or perhaps a lamp. I would not worry to much about that. But if your using this outlet for electronic equipment that requires a third ground wire or surge protection, then you need to turn off power, remove outlet and put the white wire where the black is and the black where the white is. That is all that is needed to correct this. Ten turn power back on. Be careful as these older wires have brittle coverings that can crack. if needed a little tape on the wires is not a bad thing also.

  • George George on Feb 11, 2012
    I need a clarification about a response ...this is a complete remodel from 4 years ago. Homeowner states everything fully working until yesterday. Only 4 plugs(non-switched), an outside plug and porch light just stopped working and my reading came back Hot/Grn Reversed...Could the Dimmer switch have any effect on those plugs and outside line? The homeowner said the dimmer to the dining room made a sizzle sound when turned on.

  • LandlightS LandlightS on Feb 11, 2012
    The dimmer did not cause the problem. The best solution is a qualified electrician to check the circuits.

  • If your getting a reading on the outlets that means it is working, Although not correct, working none the less. I am a bit confused. You said in first post that the wall plugs were revers polarity, today your saying some other plugs are reversed. I need some clarification on this myself. The sizzle in the dimmer area is a sign that either the amount of bulbs size wise are way to high of a draw for the lamp(s) it was dimming and the switch fried. This is a very common issue when people install low quality low amperage dimmers and then install a major light fixture or 10 ceiling lights with floods. Another reason is that the wires within the switch box fried which would result in power shutting off to other devices. In any case, something fried and the services of a licensed electrical contractor should be considered. Once a wire burns it may require complete replacement if its melted within the box. And unless you have a great understanding of how to properly wire this I suggest you seek the help of someone who can. As far as the reverse polarity, this would have nothing to do with a short but can be the result of someone who did wiring before and did not understand what they were doing.

  • George George on Feb 12, 2012
    I checked the dimmer switch in the dining room and found a loose connection. Corrected it. I then pulled the wall plug that has stopped working and found a double tap connecting an outside plug to run a water feature pump. Will check the connection and grounding and get back with my findings.

  • Glad you found it...but the outside waterfall should be run on it's own circuit or connected to an outside GFI. The pump probably froze with this recent cold weather and that's probably the source of your trouble. Great posts as usual Bob

  • George George on Feb 13, 2012
    I pulled the outside GFCI outlet and found it wired with lamp wiring, no junction box and no grounding wire. Next step to follow the wire to locate the tap. Thx for the help.

  • There you go! It's a wonderful world isn't it? The good thing is that it creates lots of work for us & HandyANDY!

  • Wow, George, I think you should bring in an electrical contractor. You stated in your last post that the the house had a complete remodel from four years ago, and all of a sudden your having issues. Makes me concerned about what has not yet happened if they have done this poor of a job with what you already found and had to fix. These issues can become quite serious and fast if there are more then what you just have found.

  • I don't see a post if you have this corrected this or not and what the actual problem was/is. Is it fixed? A broken or loose hot wire can cause reverse polarity readings.

  • George George on May 18, 2012
    Turned out that the homeowner replaced the Dining Room chandelier and wired it wrong affecting the switch and several wall plugs...An electrician was hired and corrected the problem...all is well for the time being.