Electric Outlets - Hot and Neutral Reversed

Rental apartment situation ... no access to circuit breakers. Tested using Snapit 3 light circuit tester. I found two outlets that had "hot/neutral reversed" [HNR from here on out].
Now I obviously cannot and would not attempt any repair for perhaps 10 reasons (I have checked out a good 30 postings on the subject).
What I am asking is under what circumsances will I KILL myself. One of the HNR outlets is next to a good outlet. So if I have a floor lamp plugged into the good outlet and another lamp plugged into the HNR and I touch both lamps (presumably in good electrical condition), am I going to be zapped? The lamps clearly would not have a ground type plug. Am I less likely to die if both appliances are grounded? One grounded one not??? I have to assume that if there is any electrical fault in the lamp (or appliance), then I am going to be in trouble.
I am NOT using the HNR that is next to a good outlet. The one HNR that is pretty isolated is being used but I presume the only exposure here is using the vac or any long corded appliance. I also will not use the HNR with a computer or accessories.
While I will bring this up with the landlord, I do not want to cause undue alarm.
Wes in NJ
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
do not connect the hot to one hand, and the neutral or ground to the other hand, to electrocute your heart muscle. all beginner electricians keep one hand in their pocket at all times. instead of living with a shock hazard, 1. go to walmart electrical department and buy 2 portable GFI's. around $10 each. plug one into an outlet and it will trip before allowing you to get killed. 2. use one to test all your appliances and outlets for a shock hazard. handle your questionable lamps to test them this way in both on and off modes. 3. the landlord won't be too excited if an electrician replaced your troublesome outlets at your expense. 4, the lamp shock hazard is reduced by the manufacturer when the hot appears at the center socket terminal to the lightbulb. this is accomplished when using a polarized plug in a properly wired outlet. a digital multimeter will allow you to identify the plug's short hot prong versus the neutral taller prong and correct any miswired lamps.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Typically lamps are not grounded. The "hot" wire should connect to the tongue in the socket and the neutral connects to the threaded part of the socket. The likelihood of you getting electrocuted by this is probably extremely small.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
FYI: the body of the fixture should not under normal circumstances be connected to either the hot or the neutral wire

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sorry I couldn't get back on line as the thread has gone too far. I thank all for their input. I know the situation has to be dealt with, but as I originally said, I just wanted to have some backup that it should be dealt with sooner rather than later.
I should have mentioned that this is a multifamily dwelling with the live in landlord having access to the circuit breaker, and actually that is a side issue to my main concern (the HNR outlets). We just moved in and I have to go with the presumption that the prior tennant had absolutely no problem with the HNR outlets. I am sure there will be no problem with the landlord calling in his electrician.
Thanks, Wes
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm sure he is just happy to spend $200+ to make a tenant happy.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message

Well, Ed, if the guy gets injured or worse and the landlord has to explain to the insurance company and whatever attorneys get involved he will be a whole lot unhappier.
He is collecting rent. The premises he is renting should be safe.
Charlie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 19 Oct 2005 16:01:19 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net"

Do this. Write a letter about the conditions. Get it notorized. Send a copy to yourself using a certified receipt. Send another copy to your attorney. Then make out your will, being very thorough with all your belongings. Then, plug in a lamp, being sure to touch the plug contacts with your fingers, and electricute yourself. After your death, your family will inherit all your stuff and they will become the owners of the rental you lived in after the landlord is sued and imprisoned. Your family will be very happy !!!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
....

That is a rather dangerous situation. What if you MUST turn off the breaker? What if you plug in something and trip the breaker? If you cannot resolve that situation, consider moving.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message : ... : > Rental apartment situation ... no access to circuit breakers. : : That is a rather dangerous situation. What if you MUST turn off the : breaker? What if you plug in something and trip the breaker? If you cannot : resolve that situation, consider moving. : : Yeah, that struck me, too. Completely unacceptable. I'm wondering if the OP simply doesn't know where the breakers are and/or is afraid to bother asking.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That's possible. I'm just thinking it could be an apartment in a converted single family and the downstairs tenant has the breaker box. I can visualize a smoking receptacle and waiting until the landlord comes home from vacation so you can turn the breaker off.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

It is safe to use any device or lamp that does not have a polarized plug (one with one prong larger than the other so it will only fit in the outlet one way). Most devices with polarized plugs are also safe, but it may not be easy to be sure. I would avoid using any polarized plug device in those outlets. I would also suggest contacting the owner and having it fixed.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

There is NO difference between a polarized plug fixture and a non-polarized plug fixture other than the fact that the plug is polarized.
The only reason that bulb fixtures are polarized, is that a correctly wired outlet puts the neutral (less hazardous) on the base shell - which you might come in contact with while changing a bulb.
If the hot is on the base shell (from a reversed outlet), the base is hot EVEN IF the light switch is off (because the switch switches the neutral!).
In other words, with a correctly wired outlet (and non-defective fixture), a polarized receptacle guarantees you can't electrocute yourself from accidentally touching the base shell of the bulb or fixture, switched on or not.
As a corrollary, with unpolarized fixtures, or, polarized fixtures on an hot-neutral reversed outlet, you will want to consider unplugging the fixture before changing the bulb. It's not necessary on a polarized fixture on a correctly wired outlet.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Chris Lewis wrote:

There may be differences in how well guarded electrically live parts may be, I just would not count on it.
It is always best to be conservative when it comes to electrical problems.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs needed. 30 days is reasonable.
If they aren't completed by then, call an electrician yourself, and deduct the bill from the rent.
Make sure you have the electrician write up a detailed report of the problem and resolution.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Two outlets in the same junction box were on two separate breakers!
It pays to be VERY careful. I never, ever expected that.
Actually, that's the way it should be done or better yet, have the top of the receptacles on one breaker and the bottom on another. The reasoning should be obvious as multiple circuits are required in modern kitchens.
If you started poking around in ceiling boxes, actually any junction box other than switch type boxes, you'd find numerous circuits.
As to OP. the wiring isn't a problem for all intents and purposes. It never made a real difference before three prong plugs, did it?
--
hwm54112
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.