The last 30 years we've lived in this house, we've had a problem with 1 of the bedroom's electrical receptacles.

On the same wall, there are 2 receptacles about 10 feet apart on opposite sides of the wall. The top plug on each don't work, and the bottom plug do work. The switch in the room has never worked, and we assumed it was because it's connected to those 2 (top) plugs. Since the room adjacent to this one has the exact same setup, but actually do work.

I decide to tackle the problem finally and bought a Receptacle Tester. The reading had no lights turn on. Which indicated Open Hot on the tester. According to the manual this means that the hot contact is not connected.

Does anyone have an much more in-depth explanation about what Open Hot means?

Is this something I could easily fix myself? Is it possible that the switch itself is actually bad?

Offtopic question, There is button on my receptacle tester in the middle, and when i pressed the button while connected to the open hot outlet it gave a faint glow.

What does that button actually do or represent? And what does the faint glow indicate?


  • I'm really surprised we don't have a question asking what 'Open Hot' means already, given how basic of a question it is. Apr 22, 2015 at 19:39
  • "What does that button actually do or represent? And what does the faint glow indicate?" I'd have to guess it's for testing GFCI outlets, which probably doesn't apply to those bedroom fixtures. You might also want to RTFI: Read the Fine Instructions. If you don't still have the package for the tester, look up that make and model online, and see if the manufacturer has an instruction sheet for it. Otherwise, you're basically just looking for a black cat in a totally dark room.
    – Track_Time
    Apr 22, 2015 at 20:56
  • FYI: We found out that the wire to the switch was never connected. I have no idea why. They ran the wire but never connected it to the switch. Jan 10, 2017 at 20:06
  • Yes the button on your tester is for checking gfci receptacles. Jun 22, 2020 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


Open hot just means that the wire that should be hot is not connected to the power supply. The neutral and ground are possibly still connected. This is a common way to switch receptacles by adding an extra (red) wire that goes through a switch.

You should check continuity between the outgoing (switched hot) wire at the switch and the red wire (going to the top receptacle) at the receptacle. If there isn't continuity then there is a break in the cable or it's not a switched outlet setup.

If that is the case and you want to be able to use the top outlets again you can connect the top and bottom hot sides of the receptacle and cap off the supposedly switched hot. You can then remove the switch and cap of the wires that go into it.

If there is continuity then you should be able to replace the switch and the receptacles will work again.

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