I have an issue with a 20A circuit with a GFCI plug. The GFCI will not reset, no light appears. I have replaced GFCI, checked line/load to ensure they are correct. The funny thing is, the plug downstream from the GFCI shows it's wired properly (used 3-prong GFCI tester), but when I plug in the appliance (make-up mirror), the tester shows hot-ground reverse, and the GFCI plug upstream now lights up RED. GFCI still will not reset, and has no power. This same circuit is tied to other GFCI plugs downstairs, but they are all functioning properly without issue. I have to think it is just this one GFCI and its downstream partner that is somehow causing this issue. Thoughts?

  • Appliance does work on non-GFCI outlet Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 17:45
  • What happens when you plug in other small appliances? Does this mirror have a polarized plug (or a 3-prong) ? Don't trust a "tester" -- get a decent meter and check the voltages across each of the 3 pairings at the outlet (hot-neutral, hot-ground, neu-gnd) Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 18:26
  • Does the GFCI reset if the appliance is NOT plugged in??? I've had a receptacle all by itself be the cause of a GFCI trip (repeatedly) And there was nothing visibly wrong with it - but when it was wired into the load side, the GFCI would trip (not instantly, a few minutes to a few hours - I thought the GFCI was bad until I ran a few more tests with other GFCIs.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 18:27
  • Carl - Mirror has a polarized plug. It's fairly new, and used to work in this same outlet prior to the issue starting. I did replace this downstream plug, and it had no effect. Other appliances don't work either. I will try your suggestion for the meter. Thank you. Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 18:48
  • Ecnerwal - The GFCI will not reset at all. I thought it was a CFCI issue, so I replaced it. I did try another GFCI, in addition, just in case the one I bought was somehow bad (doubtful - but some people play the return game at Home Depot and I can see how I may possibly have bought one that was carefully re-packaged). Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


Well, this is certainly full of red herrings, isn't it?

Sounds like a disconnected neutral wire somewhere

"Hot Ground Reverse" is how a "magic 8-ball tester" tells you the neutral wire is not connected back to the panel, but a load is plugged in and switched on.

So check each of the outlets in the string to see if they actually work. The trouble will be either at the last working one, or the first defective one.

The usual culprit is backstab connections.

Here's what's really going on inside those magic 8-ball testers.

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The printed legends, however, are notoriously wrong and misleading. This one has a more useful legend:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Ah-Ha! There are NO backstab connections in any of the GFCI plugs, and all the wires are tightly making contact. I checked all outlets, and this GFCI box is where the first non-working outlet is. There are two neutrals in the GFCI box that were twisted together, but not capped. Someone was lazy I suppose. I will cap these together to see if this is the culprit. Thanks for your help. Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 15:57
  • @FatherWasaContractor You checked the last outlet that is working, right? If they're all out, then check the panel. The neutral wire on the neutral bar is often overlooked, but sees the same current as the hot. Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 18:13
  • +10 for that great Explain-O-Mat legend. Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 19:55
  • I seriously need to get that particular tester!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 20:55

Thank you to all who supplied great information. I was able to figure this one out. It was something painfully obvious...the line/load neutral on the GFCI plug were switched. I had initially tested them with a Klein tools non-contact voltage tester and had LABELED the lines. I never questioned it once I had labeled them. Well, I mislabeled the neutrals.
Once I swapped these on the GFCI, everything worked downstream as well. Your time was not wasted. You got me thinking in a different direction, and sometimes that's all it takes. Much appreciated!!!

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