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Old 11-04-2012, 01:26 PM   #1
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hot / ground reversal triggered by a light switch


I have a circuit that has both wall outlets and lights. My wife was drying her hair using one of the outlets and the dryer stopped working. No big, deal it sometimes overheats. She tried again later from the same outlet and it still did not work. She moved to another outlet (on a different circuit) and it worked ok.

I noticed later in the day that the none of 4 lights on the circuit worked. I check the breaker and it was ok. I put a tester in the outlet she was using the hair dryer on and it showed a hot / ground reversal.

None of the lights work. I have confirmed that they have power. The odd thing is that when I flip on any of the light switchs, the hot / ground reversal is triggered on the wall outlet. The wall tester shows no fault when all the switches are off. I bypassed the switch and still get the fault, so it is not the switch. Is it possible that all the lights are just shorted out and need to be replaced or is something else up?

I have read that the issue might be an open neutral and not a hot / ground reversal. I would think that a hot / ground reversal would trip breakers. But, I don't understand how an open neutral would occur when you flip a light switch on.

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Old 11-06-2012, 06:33 PM   #2
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hot / ground reversal triggered by a light switch


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Originally Posted by bbrown302 View Post
I have read that the issue might be an open neutral and not a hot / ground reversal. I would think that a hot / ground reversal would trip breakers. But, I don't understand how an open neutral would occur when you flip a light switch on.
My guess is that there's a poor connection on the neutral somewhere in that circuit. The poor connection passes enough current so that, with nothing else on the circuit switched on, it reads normal on the plug-in outlet tester. However, when you switch on a light, the neutral can't pass enough current for the light to light. The neutral goes to line potential. That makes the hot-to-neutral light on your tester go out, and the neutral-ground light comes on.

Start pulling out the switches and receptacles on that circuit and checking the neutral connections.

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Old 11-06-2012, 09:35 PM   #3
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hot / ground reversal triggered by a light switch


Hot ground reversed the indication you get from those testers of the neutral is open. Look for a loose or open neutral connection.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:39 PM   #4
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hot / ground reversal triggered by a light switch


I had this same problem. Went through every wall switch and outlet starting from the end of the circuit and found a neutral on an outlet that was bad (burnt from poor/loose connection). The outlets in my house were all wired using the quick connects where you just push the wire in instead of using the side screws. (see photo)
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