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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    5

    Default 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?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,736

    Default 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.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    5

    Default 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?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    12

    Default 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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,969

    Default 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.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default 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
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    5

    Default 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.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,004

    Default 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.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    5

    Thumbs up 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!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    304

    Default 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.
    It's this old house, not this built after your dad was born house.

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