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Jason
Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3656
Experience:  Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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I plug in the receptacle tester and get hot/neutral reverse.

Resolved Question:

I plug in the receptacle tester and get hot/neutral reverse. What do I have to do? The white and black wires are connected to the correct sides and screws. I connected the brass wire to the top screw on the receptacle. Should the brass wire be somewhere else?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Jason replied 3 years ago.

Jason :

Hello. Thank you for asking your question on Just Answer...

Jason :

If you have the black wire on the gold screw, and the white wire on the silver screw, with the bare wire on the green screw - the outlet is wired properly. With it wired as described, a reading of "Hot/Neutral Reversed" on your tester is likely an indication of a loose neutral wire. It's probably loose at the previous box. If it comes from an upstream outlet, that is where I would check for a loose white wire. If it's in a splice, make sure none of the wires in the splice are loose or broken. If you find any outlets connected via the small push-in holes on the back, it is recommended that the connections be redone, using the screws on the sides of the outlets.

Customer :

I will have to go next door and check the outlet to see if it is loose. I will be back...

Jason :

OK, I'll wait for you.

Customer :

It will be 20 min at least

Jason :

Since it will be that long, are you open to having me comment further in a couple of hours?

Jason :

I am on my lunch break (a very late lunch today), and I really need to head out and finish my workday. I have a couple of very small calls to take care of. I should be back here by 4 PM or so. It's a little after 2 now. In case you didn't view my profile, I work full time for a local electrical contractor. In case you are in a hurry, I have asked another expert to keep an eye on this question while I am away.

Customer :

I just tightend the ground wire screw and now it comes out hot when I plug it in!!

Jason :

Thank you for your patience. Can you clarify what you mean by your last post?

Customer :

I took the outlet out and made sure the screw on the ground wire was tight. I then put it back into the box put on the cover, turned the electricity back on and now it reads hot! on the tester! I thought I had it!! I still get hot and neutral contacts interchanged.

Jason :

Do you know where the other end of the wire (that feeds the affected outlet) is?

Customer :

Yes - it is coming out of a box that has 4 lines coming from it. Then one line goes to a box that is older. If I trace it all back to the electrical panel will it be grounded from the panel hook-up or should each "outlet" be grounded?

Jason :

They will only be grounded when all of the ground wires are connected to each other, and to the ground wire coming from the electrical panel.

Jason :

Perhaps a better way to say it is this - Any metal part that is in contact with the ground wire coming from the electrical panel, is grounded when in contact with that ground wire (from the electrical panel).

Customer :

Ok - I quit for tonite, but the info you have provided will help me in the morning. Thanks. If not, I plan to bring in a pro to check the lines if they do not end up reading grounded. I am in Concord, NH - any suggestions. Where are you guys?

Jason :

We are electricians who live in various areas of the US. I am in Indiana, another is from Michigan. Three are from Florida, one is in New England, one in PA. We work as electricians, and work here "on the side". Question for you...

Jason :

Do any of the lines from the box with 4 sets run underground? Particularly, the portion of the circuit that you are getting bad readings from?

Customer :

I cannot tell. The lines run from a celler and then into a part of the house that is on dirt. Why?

Jason :

It's not uncommon for direct buried wire to fail after being in the ground for a long time. Sometimes, it only takes a few years. It seems to depend on soil factors, such as rocks, acidity, etc..

Customer :

Ok Thanks.

Jason :

You are most welcome. If you call in a pro, as you suggested you may do, he should be able to find the problem fairly quickly.

Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3656
Experience: Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
Jason and 3 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you

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