How to Locate an Electrical Wiring Problem
Wayne in Washington asks: I have a very unique problem in a home where on a 20 amp circuit the bare conductor is carrying the positive or hot side of the 120 volt and the black conductor is acting as the ground and the white is the neutral.
Electrical Question: How can I trace an electrical problem where the bare ground wire is the positive or hot side of a 120volt circuit, and the black wire is acting as the ground?
- I have a very unique problem I am familiar with electrical have been in the field for about 13 years mostly residential.
- My issue is in a manufactured home on a 20 amp circuit where the bare ground conductor is carrying the positive or hot side of the 120 volt, and the black conductor is acting as the ground, and the white is the neutral. However in the service breaker panel all circuits including that 20 amp circuit seem to be wired normally and working normally, the circuit in question included.
- I have pulled apart numerous receptacles and switches that are involved in that circuit and I’m finding that each one is giving me a plus on the bare conductor, and a ground as the black conductor.
- I have a solution to the problem which involves tracing down the origin of the circuit and simply cutting it off and rewiring from the panel but I’m hoping maybe you could help me and give some insight if you have any experience in this area.Any tips or anything would be a great help I appreciate it, Thanks!
This electrical wiring question came from Wayne, an Electrician in Walla Walla, Washington.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Wayne.
How to Locate an Electrical Wiring Problem
Application: Troubleshooting an Electrical Wiring Problem.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced. This electrical project is best performed by a Licensed Electrician or Electrical Contractor or Certified Electrician.
Electrical Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester, and appropriate Safety Gear.
Estimated Time: Depends on the personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area.
Electrical Safety: Identify the electrical power source to the , turn it OFF and Tag with a Note before working with the electrical wiring.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials: Electrical parts and materials for the should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections: Installing or changing home electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes as adopted in Walla Walla, Washington. A permit and inspections may also be required.
See more about Home Wiring for Washington
Electrical Problem in Home Wiring
This electrical wiring project is about Electrical Circuit Problem in a Home.
Electrical Circuit Problem
- Wayne, From what you have described I would first check to make sure that since this is a modular home, which I believe falls under the same codes as a mobile home, the main panel system wiring should not have the neutral and ground bonded.
- I know this may sound strange, but the last one I wired (here in California) had to be set up this way (a true 4-wire system at the main panel), and the inspector checked to make sure there was no continuity between the neutral and the ground everywhere in the home. The reason why is that most of these homes have a grounded metal structure that can become energized when the neutral is bonded to the ground system, because as we know, the neutral will have voltage on it when the circuit is being used.
Now to help locate this problem:
- I would locate the first junction box, or outlet on this circuit and disconnect the branch wiring that feeds out from that point. This way you can test the circuit up to that point.
- If everything is OK there, then locate the next j-box or outlet and do the same test. Continue the process until you locate the problem, or the section of the circuit that is faulty. Make the necessary repair, or replace the faulty section of the circuit as needed.
Wayne’s Followup – What He Found
- Hey Dave, thank you for your timely response, much appreciated. I did locate and fix the issue, I found a 2 gang switch box above one of the receptacles that was reading as reverse hot and ground.
- There was a green wire nut with sloppy makeup in this 2 gang and I found my black to that the insulation had been nicked and was connecting with the ground bare conductor sending the feed backwards. Thank you.
- Also what you were talking about with the grounding bonding system on the modular homes was correct the same code applies here in Oregon.
More about Electrical Wiring
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1
Fully Explained Light Switch Wiring Diagrams. Detailed Electrical Wiring Diagrams and Pictures assist your Home Electrical Projects.
Electrical Wire for the Home
Complete listing of electrical wire types and parts used for home projects with electrical code information serves as selection guidelines.
Home Electrical Circuit Breakers
A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home
Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.
Electrical Tips for Home Wiring
Ask The Electrician Electrical Tips Newsletters archive.
Rewiring a Home
Great ideas for home electrical rewiring that will add value to your home and bring it up to the current safety and energy efficient electrical codes.
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
|More articles about Electrical Wiring, Testers and Meters, Troubleshooting and Home Electrical Wiring:|
|« Previous||Next »|
|How Can I Have a Light Switch that Has a Light In the Switch?||50 Amp GFCI Trips When the Outlet is Installed|