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#42284 - 09/17/04 09:38 PM Hot and Ground reversed?
MikeP Offline
Junior Member
Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 6
Loc: Astoria, OR USA
Well here is the situation, I inspected a department and one of the 3 prong outlet (when tested) provided a reading of "Hot and ground reversed" The manager who is in charge of the electrician said that this cannot happen as if that was the case then when I plug in my testerI would either been shocked or electrocuted (SP?)

He them went on to explain the theory behind 3 prong outlets. (Please keep in mind he is not a electrician so I listend to him with my mind on the weekend)

I explained to him that this tester has never failed me yet! He then proceeded to tell me that my tester reading was wrong and that the lighting diagram should not even be on the tester. so If this was true I think that the tester would of "fried" in my hand. Obviously the tester is designed to take this type of circuit or it would not be on there.

He gave me a brand new tester to use and said that it appears that mine is faulty or has finally worn out I went back to the suspected outlet and used my tester again and received 'hot and ground reversed' I used the BRAND NEW tester he gave me and guess what? "hot and ground reversed" (go figure) and to top it off the lighting array diagram had "hot and ground reversed"

He pretty much shut up by then. Here is my question. if "hot and ground reversed" is the case when I plug in the tester. Should I receive a shock? or may it only be possible if the wiring is touching the junction box?

I was also toldby him that if it was hot and ground reversed all the electricity would be coming out of the outlets and running up the conduit.

Thanks for your time

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#42285 - 09/17/04 09:57 PM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
iwire Offline
Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
Any of these plug in testers I have seen are made of plastic. That being the case you will not receive a shock.

But if this outlet really does have hot and ground reversed anyone using an appliance with a 3 wire cord and a metal case will be subject to a shock.

Just another note would be with hot and ground reversed anything plugged into this outlet will not operate.
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
#42286 - 09/18/04 01:08 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
e57 Offline
Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
I had a plug tester show hot - ground reverse once, that was not the case....
Being that the hot - neutral light lit up SOOOO bright, that it looked that way. (due to color of the lens or so it seemed.) Really it was 220v! Bottom line, if it don't look right, or feel right, it aint right!

But, no... if the ground and hot are reversed, or even doubled.... you might not receive a shock, unless you are grounded in some way. Yet the danger still does exist!
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
#42287 - 09/18/04 03:46 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
Trumpy Offline

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8560
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Hi Mike,
Welcome to ECN!.
I'm with Bob(Iwire), on this one.
And I'd hate to be the one who plugs a metal-bodied appliance into that outlet, while holding it.
Mind you, the appliance that is normally plugged into it could be wired the same way too, I've seen stranger things.

{Edited for spelling mistake, you'd think I'd at least be able to spell APPLIANCE by now, eh?}

[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 09-18-2004).]
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin
#42288 - 09/18/04 04:30 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
Electric Eagle Offline
Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
We recently had a tester read hot-ground reversed. It read normal using a fluke meter. As it turned out the guys had a radio plugged into the circuit being tested, once it was unplugged the plug in tester had normal readings. Was it possible someone was using another outlet on the circuit at the time?
#42289 - 09/18/04 04:38 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
iwire Offline
Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
Plug a two wire device (a device without a ground pin) into this outlet, if it operates hot and ground are not reversed.
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
#42290 - 09/18/04 06:42 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
sparky806 Offline
Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 59
Loc: Shawnee, KS, USA
A lost grounded conductor (neutral) will also show that reading on a plug in tester.
#42291 - 09/18/04 10:51 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
Active 1 Offline
Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 684
Loc: Grayslake IL, USA
Those plug testers are great because they are small and light to cary with you. You can pug them and from a distance turn something on to test a outlet. They are a fast go or no go. They are not an accurate means of trouble shooting. It does not tell you all the possabilities. I remember an we pluged in one outlet and all 3 lights lit up. Turned out it have voltage nutral to equip ground and too high of a voltage hot to nutral (service groung problem). I think like some one said it lies to you about loosing a nutral.

#42292 - 09/18/04 11:50 AM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
winnie Offline
Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 652
Loc: boston, ma
I think that sparky806 has hit the nail on the head here.

Those cheapie little plug in testers are simply 3 neon bulbs between the 3 conductors (hot, neutral, ground).

A normal receptacle should turn on the bulb between hot and ground, and should turn on the bulb between hot and neutral. The neutral to ground bulb should be off.

If you were to actually have the hot and ground reversed, then the bulbs between the hot pin and the ground pin would still light up, but so would the bulb between the ground pin and the neutral pin...but since in this situation both the hot pin and the neutral pin are at neutral potential, the hot to neutral light won't light up.

Now, if there were another situation in which _both_ the hot and the neutral pins were energized relative to ground, the _same_ lights would light up.

For example, if you had an _open_ neutral, but then elsewhere on the circuit a device (presumably not working) was connecting hot and neutral, then both the hot pin and the neutral pin will be at supply voltage. You would illuminate the light between hot and ground, and the light between neutral and ground, but _not_ the hot to neutral light.

Bottom line: there is something wrong with this receptacle, but it is almost certainly _not_ a hot-ground reverse.

#42293 - 09/18/04 12:12 PM Re: Hot and Ground reversed?
lil suzi Offline
Registered: 08/13/03
Posts: 56
Loc: Midwest
That is right, the lights usually tell you if there is a problem and gives a basic idea as to when something is reversed or not hooked up. We have caught a few mistakes here and there with those, and depend on them after a trim, to hot check out the house before we leave so we dont have to get a call 'this isnt working' or 'that isnt working' because it was when we tested it. Also, the 'wiggy' works well, for those who would rather not use one of those testers.
"Live the dream, you only get one chance."
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