Plug Wiring Reversed?

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I just bought a house and the inspector tagged four of six basement outlets as hot/neutral reversed. I open the first two, see the problem, and fix it (one of two blacks was going to silver and one of two whites was going to brass). However, the other two "bad" outlets are already wired correctly (white to silver/black to brass). Plus, these two outlets have one set of wires (white/black/ground) instead of two sets, which may not be a problem, but could be a clue. Supposedly, if I switch the wires, the plugs won't be reversed anymore. But that would put white on brass and black on silver. Maybe the electrician got the white and black wrong at the head end, wherever that is. So switching the two at the plugs will be the right thing to do. If the inspector was right, what is wrong with the wiring and how do I fix it? If the inspector was wrong, how could that be, as he was right about two other plugs in the same room? Or do I need to spend a couple of bucks on a sensor to check for myself whether the inspector was right?
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Swap black and white at both ends. This involves working on your breaker panel, which is dangerous. I recommend hiring an electrician.

He'll only be wrong if he mixed up his results after making measurements.

That's what I'd do. And don't let the erroneous situation persist.
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I doubt the wiring in the panel is wrong, more likely an outlet upstream is backwards.
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That depends on how the breaker box is wired. Most, if not all modern breaker boxes have the main breakers and the breakers for the individual circuits in the same box. Since this is presumably an old house, that may not be the case. It may have the main breakers or cartridge fuses in a separate box, and there may be an external lever to power down the whole house. If that's the case, the breakers can be switched off one by one and the main power can be switched off. At that point, there is no power coming into the breaker box.
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It sounds like you need to buy the gizmo. If the wiring was crossed anywhere you have the potential for a "back fed" neutral. If the color code was followed meticulously through the entire circuit you will not have a problem. Sounds like some home wiring went on at some time.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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my dad can wire recpts backwards seems addicted to it. his simple method works 1- gotta use a plastic box 2- and if something trips the breaker cut off its ground prong

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My father used coathanger wire for fuses. I think that's rated at about 500 amps....
Henry Australia
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On Tuesday 07 September 2004 10:05, the primordial soup was bombarded with cosmic radiation and a new life form of genus hemyd emerged to test its air breathing capabilities by gasping:

The one thing you don't want is a father like that wiring up your electric overblanket with earth to live in an old 15A plug with no fuse and an old Bakelite distribution board when you're eight years old. Trust me - I know ;o)
Disclaimer: My dad was a great old chap, very intelligent and had a good grasp of physics. He was just colour blind to mains wiring!
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Niel) writes:

Spend a couple bucks and get an outlet tester.
Then, when you confirm that they are still bad. It's possible that the outlet you fixed was upstream of one or both of the other miswired ones and all is not well.
If not, it's possible that the outlets that test reversed are fed from upstream outlets whic are miswired for the wiring feeding those outlets.
--- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/ Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/ +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html
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[This followup was posted to sci.electronics.repair and a copy was sent to the cited author.]
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com says...

Just buy one of those cheap things you plug into an outlet. It has 3 neons in it that can quickly find common wiring errors. Some versions also have a button to create a leakage that should trigger a GFI outlet or circuit breaker to trip. They are only a few bucks and well worth it. I've found reverse wired outlets in apartments I've lived in.
Reverse wiring will not affect many basic items with non-polarized plugs, but could create a hazard for items with polarized plugs or grounded plugs that assume hot is on the narrow blade. Lamps are now wired with polarized plugs so that the neutral is wired to the shell of the bulb socket, and the hot to the center.
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I had an inspector report that all of the outlets in my house were reverse wired. It turned out that in fact they were three-wire outlets with no ground wire. The house was built back before ground outlets were standard, so they are all wired with two wires. Someone later replaced all the original two-wire outlets with three-wire ones. Although this creates a false sense of safety in that there is no protective ground, it is apparently legal because you can't get two-wire outlets anymore. An electrician I consulted said it would be too costly to put in modern 3-wire wiring because of all the demolition - the old wiring is stapled inside the walls and can't just be pulled out as the new wire is pulled in. So I had him put in GFCI outlets and breakers where needed for safety (bathrooms and kitchen) and let the rest go.
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standard,
original
Yes you can buy 2 wire outlets and no it's *NOT* legal to install 3 wire outlets on a non-grounded circuit.
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As someone else said, it is legal if they are GFCI outlets.
Dimitri
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wrote:

But how many of those installed in the real world are on GFCI? I've lost count the number of times I've seen someone install 3 wire receptacles in non grounded houses, a lot of times the houses don't even have a GFCI at all. Certainly adviseable to add, though not everything will work right on them. I've seen a lot of computers and a few microwave ovens that would trip them regularly.
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Part of the problem is that it's not that easy to find 2 wire outlets at your local hardware store. Our local large chain hardware store probably has 16 varieties of duplex outlets, all 3 prong, and no 2 prong types.
--- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/ Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/ +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html
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says...

My local Home Depot has 2-wire outlets.
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Andrew Rossmann wrote: <snip>

Local where? In any case, I'm glad they're showing back up. I don't think I've seen them anywhere in decades. I think people just started putting in the grounding outlets (even 'electricicians') until the NEC or someone started a fuss over it....
jak
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wrote:

wire
in
on
trip
Home Depot stocks 2 wire outlets in both almond and brown, saw them there just the other day.
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I said "large hardware store" or something like that. :) Not everyone lives near a Home Depot!
--- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/ Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/ +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html
Note: These links are hopefully temporary until we can sort out the excessive traffic on Repairfaq.org.
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writes:

there
There was a time when people said, "not everyone lives near a Starbucks." Just wait.
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