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Old 04-09-2012, 11:58 PM   #1
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ground has become neutral


I dont have much faith in this, as I think this is probably not actually manned by anyone... Son plugged in a vacuum and it seemingly tripped a breaker. However, the breaker didnt trip but all power was lost on the circuit. My tester now shows that the neutral and ground are reversed and 110 volts is only present between the ground and either the neutral or hot. How could this happen?

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Old 04-10-2012, 12:01 AM   #2
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ground has become neutral


What do you mean that the ground and neutral are reversed? You should get 120V when you meter between hot and neutral or ground.

Did you try physically turning the breaker to the off position, then back to on?

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Old 04-10-2012, 12:13 AM   #3
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ground has become neutral


I think I know the answer, but the OP needs to confirm how hot/neutral/ground are identified and determined.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:19 AM   #4
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ground has become neutral


The plug in tester shows ground and neutral reversed, so I switch the wiring around on the outlet, same thing. There is only 110 between the bare ground wire and either the neutral or the hot, but nothing between neutral and hot (or not enough to light the simple tester) I checked the breakers first and even checked with another breaker just in case. Also, there are two other feeds off of this one outlet. This is in a mobile home but it is copper wire, not aluminum
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:25 AM   #5
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ground has become neutral


I don't know for sure, but I'm going to guess you have a broken neutral and you are getting voltage on the ground because the range has the ground and neutral bonded.

Do not read this and unplug the range...just in case leave the range plugged in.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:00 AM   #6
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ground has become neutral


I dont know about any range, but what I fear and I think you are saying, is that I have a break in my neutral and it is now grounded to my ground? The vacuum still works like a champ but it over loaded the circuit without tripping the breaker? I changed the outlet and didnt see anything obvioulsly wrong with the wiring behind except that there were feeds from other outlets all bunched up in there. I isolated the live and found that the problem was still there regardless of the feeds. If there is a break it isnt right behind the outlet. - Thanks to all that responded! - Mark
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:09 AM   #7
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ground has become neutral


Unless someone comes back with a better idea, I would say you need to at minimum, unplug all your electronics and turn off just about everything but some lighting circuits. Something goofy is going on, it sounds like a neutral splice went bad, but its going to be very difficult to help you here. I think it would time to call an electrician to come out and see what is going on.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:59 AM   #8
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ground has become neutral


Check for a loose wire at the closest receptacle still working on that circuit. Most likely you will find a loose neutral wire and pushin connections. Use the screws.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:28 AM   #9
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ground has become neutral


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Originally Posted by markisboss View Post
My tester now shows that the neutral and ground are reversed and 110 volts is only present between the ground and either the neutral or hot. How could this happen?
As other have suggested, this is a tell tale sign of an open neutral.
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Old 04-10-2012, 03:00 PM   #10
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ground has become neutral


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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
Unless someone comes back with a better idea, I would say you need to at minimum, unplug all your electronics and turn off just about everything but some lighting circuits. Something goofy is going on, it sounds like a neutral splice went bad, but its going to be very difficult to help you here. I think it would time to call an electrician to come out and see what is going on.
Since the problem only appears to affect this circuit, I would say the open neutral is on this circuit, not the house. No need to freak out and worry too much - it doesn't seem to be a MWBC, so there's no real hazard as a result. An open neutral + any other load on the circuit will result in these measurements.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:42 PM   #11
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ground has become neutral


Nothing on that circuit is working. What I am going to do is replace ALL outlets that the circuit feeds (5, I think, I'm not there right now). There have been problems in the past with bad outlets. The breaker had always tripped in the past and the breaker on this circuit is a newer one too. I was just too tired to keep working yesterday. I will post my results so that maybe others may be possibly helped. BTW, to all who have suggested about the push in wiring on the outlets, you are correct; they all were push in. I think that I was wrong about this being the first in the circuit too. I just went to this one first since it was where the vacuum was plugged in. There is only 110 (on this circuit) here between either the primary and ground or the neutral and ground. Ground can act as neutral, dangerously, right?
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Old 04-11-2012, 03:01 PM   #12
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ground has become neutral


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Originally Posted by markisboss View Post
Nothing on that circuit is working. What I am going to do is replace ALL outlets that the circuit feeds (5, I think, I'm not there right now). There have been problems in the past with bad outlets. The breaker had always tripped in the past and the breaker on this circuit is a newer one too. I was just too tired to keep working yesterday. I will post my results so that maybe others may be possibly helped. BTW, to all who have suggested about the push in wiring on the outlets, you are correct; they all were push in. I think that I was wrong about this being the first in the circuit too. I just went to this one first since it was where the vacuum was plugged in. There is only 110 (on this circuit) here between either the primary and ground or the neutral and ground. Ground can act as neutral, dangerously, right?
If none of the receptacles on the circuit are working, then the problem is between the panel and the first receptacle. The remaining receptacles are probably fine (though replacing back-stabbed receptacles is never a bad idea). You say, however, that the first receptacle has proper voltage between hot and neutral? But things don't work? What kind of meter are you using?
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:44 PM   #13
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ground has become neutral


No. What I thought was the first receptical has line voltage between hot and ground or neutral and ground. I think there is a short and until I can locate it, the circuit is off at the panel. I dont know how for one the breaker didnt trip or how we didnt have a fire. I am going back over there in a couple hours. It is my stepsons mobile home, which was a low-end model from the late 70's in Sacramento Ca. I am going to start by replacing all of the recepticles and assume that the wiring is correct and the short is in one of these.
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Old 04-11-2012, 06:28 PM   #14
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ground has become neutral


faulty recepticle is a possibility, but from the looks i would say it's most likely a broken wire.
if you suspect a short, you'll definately wanna replace the wire.
is it possible someone drove a screw where they shouldnt??

if it were me, i would run a new line from the panel to the first recept in the series.
disconnect anything after this point and re-connect them one-by-one to isolate any problems between.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:25 PM   #15
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ground has become neutral


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faulty recepticle is a possibility, but from the looks i would say it's most likely a broken wire.
I've been doing this for quite a few years. This is a layperson's first instinct but is rarely the case. Nor is it likely a "faulty" receptacle.
This is most likely a bad splice, or more likely a bad connection at a receptacle. I can't remember the last time I found a "broken" wire or faulty receptacle.


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if it were me, i would run a new line from the panel to the first recept in the series.
For real?? Without knowing what the problem is? WHY??

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