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The Importance of Electrical Circuit Polarity

How to Identify and Repair Reverse Polarity of an Electrical Circuit: Electrical Safety and Proper Circuit Polarity, Polarity has to do with the flow of electricity. Polarity and Outlets, Circuit Wires and Polarity.


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The Problems of Reverse Polarity and How to Fix It
Electrical Polarity Question#1: I need your help on something. I know what reverse polarity is – when a receptacle is wired with the hot and neutral wire feeds attached to the opposite screws that they should be attached to.

Thank you for your help in this,

This electrical question came from: Randy , a Homeowner from Alexandria , Virginia.

Electrical Polarity Question#2: I recently moved into an older model mobile home. I was outside and touched the metal strip right above the skirting and got shocked.

Have any suggestions on what I should do?

This electrical wiring question came from Vicki, in Oolagah, Oklahoma.

Additional Comments: very good, helpful.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Randy and Vicki.

How to Identify and Repair Reverse Polarity of an Electrical Circuit

Electrical Safety and Proper Circuit Polarity

The Importance of Electrical Polarity
Randy, polarity has to do with the flow of electricity. As the name implies, polar has to do with direction, north pole, south pole, and this is related to magnetism which is the influencing force or flow or direction, which takes us right back to polarity.

Polarity and Electrical Devices

More about Home Electrical Wiring

Electrical Wire for the Home

Guide to Home Electrical Wire

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.

For more information about Outlet Wiring
How to Install Electrical Outlets
Outlet Wiring

Wiring Electrical Outlets

Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Wiring Electrical Outlets with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.

Using Electrical Testers

Understanding Electrical Testers

When working on home electrical wiring using voltage testers can play an important part in electrical safety. Electrical testers enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
Types of Electrical Testers
Using Electrical Testers

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Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

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.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

4 Responses to “The Importance of Electrical Circuit Polarity”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Paul,
    Please visit the dryer cord section of the website to make sure the dryer cord is wired correctly. If the cord is wired right and the circuit breaker trips off when the dryer calls for heat then there may be a fault with a heating element or control wiring.
    Thanks for sharing your electrical question with us,

  2. Paul Rake says:

    I recently installed a three wire electric dryer cord and am worried that the polarity is wrong since the machine runs until heat is called for and then it trips the circuit breaker. Will reversing the cord hot wires fix this or is the machine defective?

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Terry,
    Standard single light switches are not polarity sensitive, which means that when there are only two screw terminals for the two wires that are connected to the switch, so it really does not matter which of these two screw terminal the wires are attached to. You may want to question your friend and find out more about why he wired it that way.
    I hope this helps you,

  4. Terry C. says:

    My friend wired a plug and made it so that one side would only go on if switch was turned on. I had to change the wiring so the switch would turn the ceiling fan on. I noticed he may have wired the switch backwards I don’t understand why he ran the hot wire to the topside (Off) when my other switches are wired normally.