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#190949 - 12/12/09 05:56 PM Reversed Polarity
ksensen Offline
New Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
Ran into something yesterday that made me pause and think.-- Got a call from a customer that lost half the electric in their house. Turned out to be a bad 200Amp Main - Unfortunately it was a Pushmatic panel. After replacing the panel we went through testing out the house- just routine to make sure everything is working ok. Discovered that several circuits in the remodeled basement all had the polarity reversed.- I brought it to the attention of the homeowner. I told her it was not right and should be addressed. She asked me if it was dangerous because it had been that way for years.- I was a little unsure what to tell her.-- Yes it could be dangerous for anyone working on the system but beyond that not sure what the danger would be.
Afterwards I thought about several other dangers- light socket shells being energized certain equipment or appliances being damaged or worse having cases energized etc.
So my question- what all dangers are inherent in a reversed polarity circuit? Should I have been more forceful in encouraging the customer to get this fixed immediately?

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#190953 - 12/12/09 09:23 PM Re: Reversed Polarity [Re: ksensen]
HotLine1 Offline


Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6804
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
IMHO, you covered most of the bases on reverse polarity. One question, when doing the panel swap, did you notice anything?

#190955 - 12/12/09 10:24 PM Re: Reversed Polarity [Re: HotLine1]
Tesla Offline

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 1280
Loc: Sacramento, CA
As for myself, I could never walk away from a reversed polarity situation.

If the neutrals were correctly landed at the panel...

I'd identify the offending circuits PDQ and untangle them.

A hand full of circuits sounds like short work.

#190966 - 12/13/09 11:48 AM Re: Reversed Polarity [Re: Tesla]
ksensen Offline
New Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
thanks for the feedback- no I did not notice anything out of the ordinary in the panel. Yes all neutrals were landed properly in the swap. The issue is defintely in the wiring. I actually took one receptacle apart- black and white clearly reversed on the receptacle. I assume that is the case on all the other circuits I tested out as well.
- I think in hindsight I should have been more forceful- I quess I was just feeling bad for them - they already were looking a significant- unexpected bill- for the panel swap, I didn't want to rub salt in an open wound so to speak.

#190967 - 12/13/09 11:50 AM Re: Reversed Polarity [Re: ksensen]
ksensen Offline
New Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
One other thing- fixing the problem would not be short work. If for not other reason than finding all the offending receptacles would involve moving a LOT of furniture and junk. Probably a solid days worth of work.

#190972 - 12/13/09 04:44 PM Re: Reversed Polarity [Re: ksensen]
twh Offline

Registered: 03/11/04
Posts: 898
Loc: Regina, Sask.
I've seen reversed polarity that changing the polarity resulted in switched neutrals. Then, you have to decide whether reverse polarity is worse than a switched neutral. It's the sort of thing that you never know about in advance. If the customer won't (or can't) pay for the repair, you can't do it for free. I like the drive thru oil change solution. Tell the customer and note it on their invoice. You have to trust that they will promptly have it fixed.


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