Reverse Polarity

What would be a simple way to explain to a client why an outlet should be repaired because it has reverse polarity?

I just googled it and saw some interesting stuff. Better let Paul A. chime in and explain. He’s good.

In the case of a lot, perhaps even most plugged in equipment, there is no problem. The problem occurs when the equipment is only swiitching one side of the line and that ends up being the neutral, leaving power in the equipment or little things like the shell of the lamp holder being hot while the center contact is neutral. It adds an extra level of hazard relamping.
Back in the olden days when you had “hot chassis” electronics (one side of the line is DC ground) it was a big thing but I never saw a polarized plug in those days.

Years ago GE had a portable TV with a metal cabnet that was connected to one side of the feed.
I am going from memory . It was not allowed to be sold in Canada but I understand there where some deaths from this TV and it was pulled from the market.

If your changing a light bulb and the lamp is “turned off” and you touch the metal base of the bulb in the process, you’ll be shocked.

This will happen to the most unexpecting, like your kids!

Reversed polarity “wired backward” receptacle(s) were detected at/in/on _____ . This condition can damage equipment, cause appliance malfunction, or electrocute users of these receptacles. Consult an electrician to properly retest all and rewire any affected receptacles.

The reason I have the “retest all” is many times in furnished homes I cannot test every receptacle possibly missing a number of them.

Thanks guys, I appreciate you taking the time to help me out.

Dennis Scott
Scott Home Inspections

Every hot chassis TV or radio I nave seen had a plastic or wood case but if you pulled a knob off the shaft was “hot”. That means you have a 50:50 chance it will be 120v depending on how it was plugged in. I think that was true of most old tube TVs. Before the “all american 5” radios (all the filiments add up to 120v) you could also have a resistor cord where they dropped some of the voltage to the tube filiments in the cord.


You are dating your self when you talk about the American 5 radio


I still do not like the term “reversed polarity” when talking about AC


Richard, I bet only a few here know what those numbers means. :wink:

I do, does that make me “dated” ? :slight_smile:

The radios were not too bad, with the knobs intact. It was the student model guitar amps that were scary! They used a similar radio circuit. Imagine Sonny down in the basement plugging his guitar into a hot chassis!
But, they were UL and CSA approved and we survived a few shocks. You learned to flip the cord over pretty quick!
I collect those things, BTW.

Dennis -

Don’t get all techie on them.

“Folks, this outlet works but is wired wrong. We recommend fixing it.”