Last night I noticed the fridge in my garage was no longer working. I unplugged the fridge and plugged a cell phone charger into the same outlet and it didn’t work either, I checked the circuit breaker and nothing was tripped and I tested and reset the GFCI outlets. I used a voltage detector pen and it indicated the outlet had power. I then used a receptacle tester and it indicated hot/ground reversed. So I checked all the outlets in the string leading to the main breaker and couldn’t find any with the hot and neutral reversed. I installed a couple new outlets anyway and disconnected and then reconnected the neutral wires. Now the receptacle tester says correct wiring but the outlets still do not work. Help?

  • I'm glad you went on and said you used a receptacle tester. Pens can show voltage present merely from nearby wiring. But this definitely is a mystery. Good luck with it.
    – SDsolar
    Apr 24, 2018 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


Ah, the "magic 8-ball" testers.

The legends are useless. Hot ground reverse suggests it is seeing power between hot and neutral, and neutral and ground. Nothing says the voltage is 120V. For lack of a neutral, HN and NG lamps were in series seeing 60V each. This was a lost neutral. Hot and neutral were never reversed. I hope you did not reverse them in an effort to clear this message!

A hot-neutral reversed combined with a lost neutral would also read "correct" and yet not work.

  • Harper thanks for the response, I did not reverse any of the hot or neutral lines, all of the white wires are connected to the correct side and all the black wires as well. The only other thing I can think of is I had the fridge and a cordless drill battery charger plugged into the same outlet overnight and maybe that did something. It sounds like it may be time to call an electrician. Thanks
    – user85095
    Apr 24, 2018 at 15:04
  • If you are getting a reading of correct power at the receptacle (120V) then your circuit is half done, meaning you have dropped a neutral. Check all splices and connections of the neutral at all locations including the panel and make sure you have a return. If you have a multimeter or amprobe. Check to see if you are getting 120V to Ground and 120V to the neutral from your hot wire for confirmation. Apr 25, 2018 at 12:37

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