I switched out a regular outlet with a LeGrand Radiant Duplex Outlet, connecting all of the wires (2 White, 2 Black and 1 Green) exactly as the previous outlet was wired and according to the instructions. It blew and the breaker is on but the outlets and lights connected won't work. I can't find the GFCI anywhere as the house is 28 years old and the wiring is a mess. If the breaker is on, could the GFCI trip the outlets?

I bought a Commercial Electric Outlet Tester Model: MS112H and each time I tested the out, it stated Hot/Grd. Reverse... What does that mean?!? I can't imagine the Ground Wire being connected to anything other than the Ground Input, especially the Hot Input! How I wire it differently?

Thanks for reading and helping...

  • Is this the first outlet on the circuit? Also, is the new outlet a regular outlet, a GFCI, or an AFCI, and were the tabs on the old outlet broken off? Apr 16, 2017 at 19:31
  • This is the first time I've replaced the outlet. No its not a GFI, GFCI or an AFCI, just a regular outlet that was working, but decided to replace it with a decorative one.
    – DBWC
    Apr 17, 2017 at 0:34
  • Were the tabs on the old receptacle broken off? Apr 17, 2017 at 3:19

5 Answers 5


Here's what's actually going on inside those 3-light testers.

enter image description here

You see there is a neon light between each of the prongs. The red is between neutral and ground for instance. The problem is, neon lights are not voltmeters. They will light for a wide variety of voltages, and won't tell you which voltage except very subtly by brightness.

When they wrote the descriptions for the device, they were forced to come up with something for every light combination. They were optimised for the kind of mistakes seen in new construction... and so they're misleading and wrong when troubleshooting old work. They're so horrible I call them "Magic 8-ball testers"*. The testers are much improved by tearing the sticker completely off, and learning to interpret the raw data the lights are providing.

For instnace, a broken neutral with a load on the circuit turned on. Neutral is pulled up to 120V, so the outer lights light. Interpretation: "Hot Ground Reverse" (unlikely). We've had novices waste hours trying to chase that nonexistent fault.

The ground-neutral tangle is a clue

If the green/ground wire is connected to neutral in any way, That Is Bad. That is often done by incompetent hacks to try to work around a problem, typically one they created.

I suspect that somewhere upstream, the neutral wire is broken. The previous hack decided to bootleg neutral from the ground wire, which is why he crossed them.

Generally, wiring problems are at terminations, and every one of those should be accessible. However every once in awhile you have a problem with the wires proper, e.g. someone drives a nail through a misplaced piece of Romex.

* Amusingly, the randomly assigned Imgur URL for this is 0BSoD.jpg. I couldn't make that up...

  • THANK YOU! Solved a related problem. I recently replaced outlets on one circuit. This morning, most of the outlets were dead. Plugging in a tester showed Hot-Ground reversed. After working fine for two weeks. Plugged the tester into each outlet until I found a working one. Opened the first failing one, straightened the wires and everything's fine. I'm guessing when I crammed everything into the wall, the ground was nearly touching either the hot or neutral. Some electrical tape covering wires and terminals. Everything is good now. Feb 10, 2022 at 18:35

Hot/ground reversed" definitely is an indication of an open neutral. This is a classic interpretation using one of those plug in testers.

Re-check your connections. Were any of the tabs on the side of the old receptacle (between the screws) broken off?


The 3 light plug in tester that shows things reversed can not tell the difference between neutral and ground. What the tester is telling you is you have the hot, black reversed with the neutral, white wire. This is the most common DIY wiring fault I have found. Normaly the black wire goes to the brass colored screw and the white wire goes to the silver screw on outlets.

  • SO I should try switching the black with the white and vice versa? Should I do that with BOTH wires?
    – DBWC
    Apr 17, 2017 at 0:35
  • Just tried that and still no luck... The Green was wrapped around the white before being screwed in on the previous outlet, should I try that?!?
    – DBWC
    Apr 17, 2017 at 0:53
  • Can you post a picture?
    – Mark
    Apr 17, 2017 at 1:33
  • Not sure why the down votes because the information is correct , those testers don't know the difference between neutral and ground. But a hot and neutral swap is a different case
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 12, 2019 at 21:04

Probably an open neutral.

Ed Beal's comment that testers can't distinguish between neutral got me curious if he was right so I did some searching. I don't think he's right. While the tester might not know the difference between which wire is which it does know which hole in the socket it's getting information from. You can't have a neutral/ground reversed detected by these testers but it can tell you if hot/ground and hot/neutral are reversed.

On to your question. While searching I came across multiple references that hot/neutral reversed is sometimes a false reading for an open ground. Somewhere further along on that circuit there is a working load and that makes the open ground look like hot/neutral reversed. If you turn off lights and unplug outlets on that same circuit and check again it should test as open neutral if there are no other loads on that circuit.

You said the "Green was wrapped around the white before being screwed in on the previous outlet" which doesn't sound like the proper way the outlet should be wired. My guess is there was no proper ground and they were using neutral as ground. I'll leave others to provide a solution to that problem but your problem sounds like it's an open neutral.

  • Neutral and ground are connected to the same place in the main service panel so there is no way to tell the difference.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 17, 2017 at 12:53
  • @EdBeal as I said it can't tell the difference between a wire connected to the ground bus or to the neutral bus or whether the wires have white, green or bare insulation. They can usually tell if the hot was swapped with either the neutral or ground terminals though. Apr 18, 2017 at 2:25

I agree that the testers sometimes cannot tell the difference between neutral and ground being reversed.

But I have never seen one make a mistake about hot/neutral being reversed. Clearly hot is not where it is supposed to be.

To be sure, take it off and use a voltmeter to find the hot lead, then turn off the breaker and and connect it. The ground will be the unclad (bare) wire, which goes to the green screw. Then white to the remaining connection.

Then test it again.

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