Why home inspectors check every. single. outlet.

At a home inspection in Hastings, I found one outlet that had reversed polarity. It’s not unusual to one or two in a home, especially in an older home. That’s why I always test every available outlet. The one I found was at the back of the garage, above workbench.

I’m glad I did! most folks don’t test their own outlets, and someone could be using that outlet for a very long time without realizing how unsafe it was.

A properly installed receptacle has a white wire, a black wire and a green (or bare) wire. The black wire carries the power (to light the bulb, spin the motor, dry your hair, whatever). The white wire carries the current back to the source, the power company. The green, (AKA ground) wire is only there for emergencies.

But if the receptacle has the black wire where the white wire should be, the drill could get “energized” or hot! If you touched the drill at the same time you were standing on a wet floor, electricity could go right through you!

No good!

The solution is simple; just take the wires off the plug and put them back the way it shows in the picture above. (Turn off the power at the circuit breaker first.)

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About the author

Joe has many years of experience as a Home Inspector. Joe is a proud member of ASHI, MAHI, WAHI & SAAR. He follows the Best Practices as described by the American Association of Home Inspectors and the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors. He is licensed in Wisconsin and is Radon Certified. Joe also complies with ASHI's Code of Ethics.

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