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Author Topic: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????  (Read 9449 times)

James A. Griffin

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Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« on: May 07, 2014, 09:06:03 pm »

This is odd.

I've been in my office for almost 10 years, rocking along with no power issues at all.    This morning when I came in, everything plugged into one of the AC circuits in one room was off.    I checked all the outlets on that circuit and find that Hot and Ground are reversed on all of them.   Every other circuit in the office is fine.

To get back going, i just ran extension cables from known good outlets / circuits to power everything I need turned on.     But what the hell happened after 10 years of correct wiring?

Wiring melted together somewhere?     I plugged something in that has a short and that went back to every outlet on the circuit??

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Mike Sokol

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2014, 09:53:20 pm »

This is odd.

I've been in my office for almost 10 years, rocking along with no power issues at all.    This morning when I came in, everything plugged into one of the AC circuits in one room was off.    I checked all the outlets on that circuit and find that Hot and Ground are reversed on all of them.   Every other circuit in the office is fine.

To get back going, i just ran extension cables from known good outlets / circuits to power everything I need turned on.     But what the hell happened after 10 years of correct wiring?

Wiring melted together somewhere?     I plugged something in that has a short and that went back to every outlet on the circuit??

James, how did you determine the hot and ground are reversed?
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Mike Sokol
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James A. Griffin

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2014, 09:54:23 pm »

James, how did you determine the hot and ground are reversed?

I used the handy 3-light gadget....

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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2014, 09:57:37 pm »

Electricity is magic so that can happen if somebody casts a spell on you.  ;D ;D

JR
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2014, 09:59:01 pm »

I used the handy 3-light gadget....

They often lie, a lot.... Read this http://ecmweb.com/contractor/failures-outlet-testing-exposed

You need to get a meter between a known ground and each contact in the outlet. Also, a $20 NCVT will quickly tell you if your ground is indeed hot. I'll bet you have a ground opened up somewhere. Not great, but not an immediate killer.
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Mike Sokol
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2014, 10:00:01 pm »

Electricity is magic so that can happen if somebody casts a spell on you.  ;D ;D

JR

Or yes, it COULD be magic.  :o
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2014, 10:45:35 pm »


You need to get a meter between a known ground and each contact in the outlet. Also, a $20 NCVT will quickly tell you if your ground is indeed hot. I'll bet you have a ground opened up somewhere. Not great, but not an immediate killer.
+1

Except that an open ground would not keep things from powering up.

My first suspect in this situation is one of the first outlets in the circuit-especially if they have been wired with the push in sockets-they are notorious for melting down. IMO a circuit that quits working for no apparent reason is a huge fire hazard.  Consider that if there is power at the breaker and none down the line there is a very good possibility that the problem is a bad connection rather than an open connection-a bad connection dropping 120 volts with even 1 amp of draw equals 120 watts which will heat up a device or j box pretty quickly.

If the neutral is open and something beyond the open is plugged in and powered up, both neutral and hot will appear to be hot.  Who knows what the outlet tester will claim?
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Ray Aberle

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2014, 11:16:35 pm »

Or yes, it COULD be magic.  :o
I keep going out and cutting those evil wires out on that branchless tree out front, that seem to convey the devil's handiwork to my home... but somehow (IT'S MAGIC!) they keep re-connecting after a few days.  :o

-Ray
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2014, 11:57:59 pm »


If the neutral is open and something beyond the open is plugged in and powered up, both neutral and hot will appear to be hot.  Who knows what the outlet tester will claim?

Here's a schematic. Let's trace it out.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2014, 03:24:06 pm »

Tracing it out is easy-just not in my head after spending the afternoon in a 110 deg greenhouse.

Normally 1 and 3 should be lit.

Open neutral only 3 would be lit.

If a load is plugged  in downstream of the open in the neutral then 2 and 3 would be lit, which is the same result as if you reversed the hot and ground. 

Again, my first suspicion-partly because of the ease of checking for it, partly from experience would be push in wiring in receptacles.
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Steve Swaffer

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Re: Spontaneous Reversal of Wires????
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2014, 03:24:06 pm »


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