Our garbage disposal is connected to an outlet that shows open hot when tested by a Klein three light tester. The outlet below it, which we don't use, also tests open hot. Disposal is controlled by a sink switch.

Everything works fine I'm just trying to figure out if this is safe and the normal wiring configuration?


2 Answers 2


An ordinary 3-light tester (there are some fancy ones now with digital voltage readouts, etc. which work differently) simply has 3 lights, one across each pair of pins:

  • Hot to Neutral - this is ON if everything is wired normally
  • Hot to Ground - this is ON if everything is wired normally
  • Neutral to Ground - this is OFF if everything is wired normally

That's all. It doesn't really "know" much. For example, it can't actually tell the difference between neutral and ground, so neutral and ground reversed or (more commonly) neutral piggybacking on ground because neutral is broken or ground piggybacking on neutral because there is no ground wire can't be detected.

So what is "Open Hot"? It can be any of:

  • Hot not connected - a.k.a., "Open Hot"
  • Hot switched off - your situation
  • Neutral and ground not connected
  • Tester not plugged in at all

Since one wire not connected is more likely than two wires not connected, and since "switched off" should provide an obvious reason for "no power", the label calls this situation "Open Hot". But it really means very little.

To figure out what is really going on:

  • Plug in the tester
  • Turn on the disposal switch

If the tester now shows "Correct" then everything is fine. If it shows anything else then that is a clue (but not a 100% diagnosis) of what is going on.


"open hot" is normal for a switch controlled outlet when the switch is off.

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