What does "open hot" mean?

Had an interesting thing at this mornings inspection.

Tested an outlet that a working appliance was plugged into. However all three lights in my little tester were blank. Typically this means that there is no power at the outlet. But the appliance worked. I looked at the label on the tester and it indicated “open hot”.

Can anyone help me overcome my ignorance on this, and tell me what is going on?

Thanks in advance.


Mark did you check which opening the hot conductor was on with your sniffer?

try http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/insp.htm

and further


Were there other outlets like that or this the only one?

No I did not. Didn’t think to try that. I wish I had.

Thanks Rick, but those really didn’t help me too much. This was the only outlet I found. The appliance worked fine. And the tester did too (on other outlets.)

My guess (guess)
would be that the voltage is reversed and the ground is neutral.
(just a guess)

What do you mean by “voltage is reversed”? I don’t understand, but I’d like to to pass the guess on to my client. :smiley:

Just reversed as in hot at the large slot rather than the small slot on the outlet.
But that would show on your tester and I was just thinking that maybe a complication would be if their was no real neutral.
I may be way off as I am just trying to imagine what might throw off your three light tester.

Only way to know for sure would be to go back and retest with a multimeter.

I’ll have her electrician do it. Thanks though. :mrgreen:

Mark…you have something else going on there. If you look at the schematic for a 3-lite tester then you will see that all combinations are covered. In other words, no mater how you miswire an outlet at least one of the tester indicators will illuminate. Now, seeing as though none did yet the appliance (what was it?) worked then I would more suspect an intermittent or loose connection somewhere resulting in a high resistance condition on one or more of the legs. The neon bulbs in the tester need 60-80 volts to light up so if the loose connection/high resistance condition resulted in less voltage then the tester lights may not light up yet the appliance would ‘somewhat’ work. My guess…the Hot leg is loose but making contact.

That’s where I’ve been leaning. Might be a stab lock connection on the back of the receptacle.

Nothing illuminated, and according to the tester that means “open hot”. Every time I have seen this in the past, nothing has been plugged in, so the assumption was made that the receptacle was inoperable. In this case the garbage disposer was plugged in and seemed to work just fine. You might be on to the loose but making contact thing, but it’s a pretty strange occurrence.

Was it a switch controlled outlet?

You say that the disposal worked fine…was this after you flipped the switch?? Hint, Hint, Hint. Were you testing the receptacle while the disposal was not running? Maybe you see where I’m going here.


Yea I guess it was. Hadn’t thought of that. Kind of stupid…

Damn you guys would make fine Inspectors.

Funny… (I can say that… because it happened to me… ***once ***!!!);):smiley:

Do you expect me to believe that you have never made a stupid mistake??? (Think before you answer) :p:D

I hate it when that happens.

Since I am perfect there was nothing to think about :slight_smile: