I live in a 1987 Zimmer Windsor double wide mobile home. A couple of the outlets are getting worn and the plug on the item I may be using at the time (vacuum, coffee maker, hair dryer) has become very loose in the socket and and falls out if moved at all. I decided to replace one of the outlets myself. What I discovered is kind of scary.
The original outlet is of the "quick connect" type where the wires are basically run straight through the outlet box and are shoved into a splice feature inside and never cut to be connected to a screw as in the design of the outlet I bought for a replacement. There are 3 wires, but not black/white/copper. There is a white wire, a copper wire , and a gray wire. The white and copper wire were the only wires connected to the outlet with the gray wire bypassing it all together. Upon inspecting the inside of the quick connect, the white wire was run where the black wire should be (it even states "black wire"), the copper wire was run where the white wire is supposed to be (it states "white wire"), and there was no wire where the ground was supposed to be connected.
So all this time, there has been no ground circuit for this outlet. I went ahead and cut the gray wire so I have basically 2 white wires, 2 gray wires and 2 bare copper wires. I used a multimeter and found that one of the white wires had power. I figured this would be the hot wire since neither gray wire had power. I connected both white wires to the 2 brass terminals, both gray wires to the 2 silver terminals and the ground wires to the green screw. The outlet did not work.
I swapped the gray and white wires around so the gray wires were on the brass terminals and the white wires on the silver terminals. The outlet still did not work. I put the white wires on the brass terminals, and the copper wires on the silver terminals, then twisted the gray wires together and the outlet works. I know this is not correct/dangerous.
I decided to look at another outlet in the home and sure enough, it was wired the same way as the original one I am replacing. The bare copper ground wire is being used for the neutral wire in the 2 outlets I have inspected. Even better yet, about 2 years ago, I replaced an outlet in a bedroom where a table lamp had been plugged in, and that outlet had the normal black/white/bare copper 14 ga. wire and was properly connected and grounded.
How do I fix this? I am not making this up and I'm afraid it's going to get expensive to straighten out.