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Old 06-02-2012, 04:36 PM   #1
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Hi, I have a total of six wall outlets that are not working in my home. They were working until an electrician came out and worked on a kitchen remodel at the house. The outlets are in a sequence along three walls in my living room, and all look exactly the same inside the single gang boxes, except for a new outside outlet I had installed a while back. All of the outlets have 2 sets of old 12/2, with no ground, coming into each single gang, the 2 blk "hot" lines are pits ailed, as are the 2 white "neutral wires". In checking out the outlets, I noticed that all of the pigtailed neutral whites are hot, whether or not they are connected to the outlet. I went down the line and disconnected every pigtailed neutral, and they are all still hot. I then cut all the pigtails and separated the whites, but they are all still hot?? I obviously am missing a line in somewhere, just unsure what to do next. I can waste a lot of time looking but not getting anywhere, so if you have any advice, I would be grateful.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Probably it's a reverse polarity. WH connected to hot and BLK to neutral. It could be connected at the panel or at any other point (in any box). If you are familiar with basic testing, go ahead and check one by one, starting at the panel.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:22 PM   #3
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


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Probably it's a reverse polarity. WH connected to hot and BLK to neutral. It could be connected at the panel or at any other point (in any box). If you are familiar with basic testing, go ahead and check one by one, starting at the panel.
I'll do that! Thank you for the advice. This had me stumped...., it's what I assume and it may be at a j-box. I'll check that too on my way to the box.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:44 PM   #4
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Did the electrician disconnect them or have the breaker of. I would ask the electrician and see what he says. Maybe the livingroom is on the kitchen circuit.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:56 PM   #5
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Bruinjon12, do it only if you know what you are doing. Otherwise you can die or lose the house to fire.

every electrical contractor would tell you that
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:34 PM   #6
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Bruinjon12, do it only if you know what you are doing. Otherwise you can die or lose the house to fire.

every electrical contractor would tell you that
I understand. I will be careful, I can promise that. One thing, does the fact that the blacks are hot as well mean that there is a possibility that the whites and blacks are both hooked up to power somewhere down the line? If I don't reply in an hour I'm frying....

Right now I have all of the outlets out and the whites are disconnected. The pigtailed whites have been cut free as well. Now there is an outlet on the wall that works, about 10 feet from the first outlet that is not working. I assume this is the first... Am not sure about the order. All I can say is that I disconnected the white/neutral on this outlet, and it did just what I thought.... It sparked a little. While it was disconnected I went to that other outlet and tested the white/neutral, which was also disconnected. It still showed hot! So I assume that the first working outlet in that wall is not wired in with the other non-working outlets, or else that incoming neutral would have been cold. If I am wrong let me know, I'll check back and see if you replied in a few.

Why is it so dangerous?, the shocks I mean? I get shocked all the time and always have been able to let go. It is only a minor nuisance, at least so far. How can a little 110 kill someone? If I am just touching a wire quickly by accident, and I get a little shock, I don't ever worry much about it. I do however if I am messing with 220... It's just a question, not something I do all the time. I understand the basic dangers, but it just seems like such a little shock. Maybe I'm too used to it...lol

Thanks again for your help. Be back in an hour, I hope.
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:38 PM   #7
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Did the electrician disconnect them or have the breaker of. I would ask the electrician and see what he says. Maybe the livingroom is on the kitchen circuit.
Might be. The guy changed some things so the panel card is not accurate. I'll check the panel real quick to see if I see a misplaced white. All my 220's are blk and red, so I shouldn't have any whites over on the power bar.
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:47 PM   #8
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Are these two prong receptacles that you are testing? Older receptacles did not have the slots identified as a hot or neutral.

It is not the voltage that kills you. It is the amount of ampacity that passes through and the path it takes.
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:51 PM   #9
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Attach a piece of wire to the ground. Make absolutely sure you've got the ground and then check BLK and then WH to that ground wire with a voltmeter. And then check voltage between BLK and WH. If you know what you are doing everything will be clear. An electrician will need 30 seconds to figure that out. But via chat it is not possible. Sorry
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:23 PM   #10
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


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Attach a piece of wire to the ground. Make absolutely sure you've got the ground and then check BLK and then WH to that ground wire with a voltmeter. And then check voltage between BLK and WH. If you know what you are doing everything will be clear. An electrician will need 30 seconds to figure that out. But via chat it is not possible. Sorry
You guys are amazing! Seriously smart. To be honest I'm not sure I understand the ground and checking the blk/wht with voltmeter concept. I'm also trying to make sure I gave a good picture of this so I don't waste anyone's time. What would that testing tell me?

Here's what else I assume. Like I said before, when I went under the house I saw one old snakeskin line coming up over a floor joist and running along the joist about 8 feet. Then the line angles up and thru the subfloor exactly below where I know one of my non- working outlets is located. The only other thing I know is that with the exception of one new run of 14/2 romex going to the new outside outlet, all of the other lines coming into the single gangs is old wire. The gauge is all 12, and the last electrician used 14/2. So I have to assume that the error is somewhere where the old stuff and new stuff join up. It may be up in the attic, I am in my basement, and was hoping I could find some misfired neutral down here. It's where all the wire ends up and where the service panel is located ( up above on the exterior wall). There are several j-boxes down here, but it seems like a waste of time to open most of them, cuz there is none of the white sheathed 14/2 romex going into any of them.

I guess there must be a line up in the attic that is connected to the old line at a j-box, and hopefully there is where the error is. What gets me is how the blk and wht wires are hot..... Does that mean the electrician hooked up the blk correctly for this sequence of outlets, then also somehow attached the white to power as well??
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:39 PM   #11
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


Some things will continue to work with reversed polarity, and because of your statement that outlets were not working, I don't think your problem is truly reversed polarity.

I am thinking you are chasing the wrong problem if you are assuming reversed polarity. I think you have an open neutral somewhere.

I would make sure you unplug any electronics from this circuit and call the electrician to come check it out. However, you should have done this from the start. Now that you have worked on this problem, he may charge you for putting it back together.

For future reference...if you have had an electrician over, then find something isn't working, call that electrician to figure out what the problem is. Sometimes its something related to what has been done, sometimes it isn't, but now you (quite possibly) have made the situation much worse and much more expensive.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:45 PM   #12
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Some things will continue to work with reversed polarity, and because of your statement that outlets were not working, I don't think your problem is truly reversed polarity.

I am thinking you are chasing the wrong problem if you are assuming reversed polarity. I think you have an open neutral somewhere.

I would make sure you unplug any electronics from this circuit and call the electrician to come check it out. However, you should have done this from the start. Now that you have worked on this problem, he may charge you for putting it back together.

For future reference...if you have had an electrician over, then find something isn't working, call that electrician to figure out what the problem is. Sometimes its something related to what has been done, sometimes it isn't, but now you (quite possibly) have made the situation much worse and much more expensive.
I have to say that may be the issue. I just heard from an electrician and he mentioned that hot black and white is most likely open neutral. What I don't get still is..... I disconnected all of the whites both from the receptacles and from each other, and they are still chirping at me.... Wouldn't disconnecting them all have made at least some of them cold now?

I don't think it's worse. Everything I touched can be wired back up again, so I am not sure there is any new problem or mess. I get your point though. I think without knowing the full extent, it was not know to me whether or not the issue was something I needed an electrician for. You are probably fit though.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:51 PM   #13
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


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Thank you for your time and patience.

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Old 06-02-2012, 07:52 PM   #14
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Just thought I'd mention that....

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Old 06-02-2012, 07:52 PM   #15
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Have several wall outlets that have hot neutral


No reason in particular....

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