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Dogma
Black and white wires both hot

At the home of my niece,several receptacles on the same circuit stopped working.I discovered one receptacle where both the black and neutral wires are hot.There are no switches or light fixtures on this circuit.My plan is to first check each receptacle to check for reversed wires.The circuit is wired correctly in the breaker box.My question is all of the receptacles were functioning properly yesterday and should not have been, so what happened?

dj1
Re: Black and white wires both hot

A couple of things you can check, before you call an electrician to sort things out for you:

1. Check all outlet connections. The wires should go to the screws, not the stab slots. White to silver ans black to brass.

2. Check the condition of the breaker and the connections. Replace if needed.

If you don't know any of these or if you are not comfortable doing electrical work, call a lic electrician.

Dogma
Re: Black and white wires both hot

Thanks for your reply.What I really want to know is how can both wires be hot?One day everything was working,the next day half of the receptacles stopped working.What would cause the neutral wire to be hot when apparently the day before it was not?

supratreo
Re: Black and white wires both hot

maybe its a long shot but is it possible that a rat chewed through the wires so that both are making contact somewhere.

i'm a auto mechanic not electrician but i see this problem in cars all the time.

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Black and white wires both hot

Outlets do break

Be sure when testing that NOTHING is plugged into the entire circuit. Dimmer switches must be disconnected as they can 'leak' small amounts of power and be detected by simple testing equipment.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Black and white wires both hot

If the connection of the white wire to the common buss is loose or a bad connection along the neutral line from the panel is loose or broken and you have any thing plugged into a receptacle or a light on the circuit the hot will feed trough to the neutrals.

Jack

Dogma
Re: Black and white wires both hot

Thanks so much for all of the fast replies!I did have a fan running on one of the functional receptacles,so that solves the mystery.I will simply check every connection and hunt down the bad wire or receptacle.

MLB Construction
Re: Black and white wires both hot

one other thing to keep in mind is that if you're using one of the testers that beeps when it's against a hot wire, it will usually show power to a white wire when in fact it's a properly wired neutral wire. because the wires are so close there's enough minimal electricity in the area to make the tester beep and trick you into thinking the white is hot.

Dogma
Re: Black and white wires both hot

Well,my brother and I just spent all day trying to repair that circuit and finally succeeded!We removed every receptacle on the circuit and checked a junction box we discovered in the ceiling.We determined the first of the series,then ran a length of romex from there to the next closest one.From there we ran a long length to each outlet one at a time in turn, attaching with wire nuts.Finally found there was bad wire between #3 and #4.Apparently the black and white wires were somehow making contact there in the wall somehow because #1,2,and 3 were still getting power on both hot and neutral whenever we flipped the breaker back on.#4 tested normally.We'll never know why unless we demolish the wall.Mice?A nail that worked it's way through via footstep vibrations over the years?Luckily we could run a new wire in a raceway mostly along the back of a closet.
Wanted to post our adventure and solution in case anyone else experiences this dilemma.Thanks to all for the help!

function
Re: Black and white wires both hot

Well done, feels great doesn't it?

You made your house a safer place for you, your family and the next owner.

Dogma
Re: Black and white wires both hot

Feels great!My brother and I smiled and both said "We're frickin' genius's!" Which we are not,but we are stubborn enough to keep at it until a problem is solved.

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