Reverse polarity outlet fix?


In the process of selling a home and the inspector detected two duplex outlets with "reverse polarity". He states that the installer reversed the breaker box as well and that is why they work (?)
What must one do to correct this polarity issue? Advice, examples, etc? Thanks.
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Bob M wrote:

Kill the circuit to which these receps are attached. Take down every light fixture, switch, receptacle, etc. and reconnect the wires correctly. Black to the breaker, white to the neutral bus at the panel. Black to the brass terminal on the recep. or hot wire to light fixture etc. White to the silver terminal on recep or neutral wire to light fixture. This sounds like a lot of work but if you know what you're doing you can knock it out in an afternoon and it is well within the ability of a DIYer (hey, that describes me too.) If the receps and switches use backstab connections at a minimum reconnect the wires to the screw terminals. You may want to go ahead and replace all the receps and switches with new "spec grade" ones, it's no more work and not that expensive in the grand scheme of things (no more than $50) and that way you won't have to worry about them again for 20+ years. If you get the kind with the backwire screw terminal connections it'll save you install time as you won't have to loop the wires.
nate
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What he said does not seem to make much sense unless the installer used the black (or red) line as neutral to those two outlets and used the white line as hot. If so the fix is easy for anyone who knows how, but I am suspicious as to why only two outlets were on that circuit.
If you have to ask I am a little concerned about your ability to safely make the fix. In short it means reversing the wires at the breaker for that circuit and at the two outlets. It is very important to verify that those are the only two outlets involved or you could be creating a far more dangerous situation.
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Bob M wrote:

Forgot to mention, how old is this house? if it is old enough to not be grounded and/or have aluminum wiring, ask the homeowner if he will allow you to simply remove the cover plate and pull the recep out in one of the locations that has a problem. The home inspector can't do this, but it never hurts to ask. This will allow you to see if there's other problems due to a slipshod install such as a "bootleg" ground and/or the presence of aluminum wire, which requires special procedures to deal with safely.
My own house checked OK with an outlet tester but every blessed ground above the basement was bootlegged rather than run correctly, as I found when I went to replace some loose receps. I don't blame the home inspector but it'd have been nice to know going in, I might have negotiated harder.
nate
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Stupid question, I'm sure - what does bootlegged mean in this context?
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Like someone else mentioned, I would check every thing on this particular circuit. It could be as simple as just reversing the wires on the receptacles or something else may be coming into play. Does this house have knob and tube wiring?
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=========================================================== If the wires were reversed at the outlets AND at the breaker box, then the outlets would test fine. For the polarity to be reversed, there has to be a miswiring at one end only. I would guess that the miswiring is at the outlet only, or somewhere in between the breaker box and the outlet in a junction box or at an upstream outlet. A color reversal at the breaker box would stick out like a sore thumb.
                    RON =======================================================Remove the ZZZ from my E-mail address to send me E-mail.
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A receptical will have two or three wires comming to it. One is a ground wire and should be either an uninsulated wire (most common) or green insulation. This wire normally carries no current. Its only purpose it incase the 'hot' wire comes in contact with the metel case of a device. Lets say your computer. It will work just fine with the 'hot' and 'neutral' wires. If the hot wire somehow shorts to the case of the computer, the computer will still work just fine. However if you touch the case and a grounded device then you become part of a circuit and will be shoked or killed.
There will be a neutral wire (should have white insulation) that is one leg of the circuit. It will be connected to the green wire and ground at the breaker or fuse box. There will also be the hot wire which is normally insulated black, but could be another color.
The black wire is connected to the brass collored terminal of the receptical and the white wire is connected to the silver colored screw of the receptical. At the breaker box the black wire should be on the breaker and the white wire should be connected to the neutral buss . Most of the time all the white wires in the box will be connected together and the breakers will have a black or other color wire going to it. This is for the 120 volt recepticals and breakers. YOu may see a 240 volt breaker with a white wire on it.
When you get a reverse polarity , that is when someone reversed the colors of the wires going to the screws. Everything will normall work, but you will not be as safe if a short or other problem develops. If the colors match at the receptical, then at the breaker box the wires have been reversed and the white wire will be going to the breaker and the neutral connection have been reversed.
All this is easy to correct just by matching the correct wire colors. Sometimes the wires will not go directly back to the breaker box, but to another receptical or more that is on the same breaker.
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Strange, only 2 outlets I wouldn't expect the breaker box. If only black or red wire go to the breaker, then its not reversed at the panel.
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Something like the above should verify the outlets and its an easy fix. I assume the lighting circuits are wired correctly as you didn't say the inspector found problems.
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Bob M wrote:

??? If the installers also reversed the wires at the breaker, the outlets would be back to the correct polarity. When I moved in here, about half the outlets were reversed. I replaced them all with 3-holers tied to the grounded boxes. Took a couple of hours.
Make sure all the breakers are wired the with the same colors to the same screws, and then rewire the reversed outlets to match a known good outlet. If you are not comfortable doing this, call an electrician- it all should take him less than an hour. Your inspector does not sound too knowledgeable- you may want to have the electrician eyeball the rest of the wiring while he is there.
-- aem sends...
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Bob M wrote:

I guess no one's mentioned turning them over so the ground plug is up...
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