Is death lurking on your next appliance repair? The hidden dangers of reverse polarized wall outlets

Posted on August 5, 2015 by - Tech Talk

In this adrenaline-filled safari into appliance repair excellence, Samurai Appliance Repair Man shows you how reverse-polarized wall outlets can pose unexpected dangers to you on a service call. Don't be a victim! Watch this video, save your own life, and learn a few appliance repair tricks and tips along the way. Better yet, enroll in the Samurai Tech Academy and learn all about basic electricity, series and parallel circuits, motors, troubleshooting, reading schematics, and much, much more!



Just to point out a couple of things shown in the video.

First, the relay on the control board in this case is switching Neutral instead of Line, as it was designed to do. This is actually easier on the relay contacts since there won't be any arcing like you'd have if it were switching Line.

Second, although the gas valve has Line voltage standing at the terminals because of the reverse polarized wall outlet, this does not pose a danger to the appliance... just to the unaware appliance tech!

4 Responses to “Is death lurking on your next appliance repair? The hidden dangers of reverse polarized wall outlets”

  1. Chris Pesotine on

    So that explains what happened to me back in July while working on an older Whirlpool slide in gas range (SS363BETT). Customer said both bake & broil didn’t work even though she saw orange under the pan. Grease droolings solidifying it to the countertop, I didn’t bother pulling it out to unplug, and the homeowner wasn’t sure which breaker in the box handled the appliance as it wasn’t marked. So, eeny, meeny, miny, moe, choose a wire and test the volts,,, err, I mean amp draw, which was 2.7amps or sumpin’ too low to open the gas valve. I disconnect the bake burner, then the ignitor from the burner… and proceed to drop it inside the oven onto the broiler pan below, ignitor hits end straight down proceeding to lite up like a roman candle for a few seconds, bright as a star about to blow up. It all happened in slow motion, and with my head and face in oven, I seem to remember thinking, “Wuz that gas I just smelled as I watched the thing poof right in front of my eyes?” I know I should have powered down the unit before starting repairs, but I remembered a quote from a wise ol’ appliantology sage, “CAREFUL! Fire in the hole.” Yeah, I was cocky and confident this was going to be a quick fix,,,NOT.
    Lessons learned: 1.) Safety first! 2.) Go buy a voltage tester stick…which I did =) 3) Oh yeah, which breaker handles the range.
    Thanks Scott,

    • Scott Brown on

      Wow, Chris, that’s one helluva war story! Glad you’re still around to tell it– that could have ended very badly.

      I ALWAYS check wiring for voltage with my voltage sniffer even if I “know” I unplugged it because your mind plays tricks on you and you can “remember” something vividly only to realize that it was from a different service call! We get especially prone to this deception as we get older.

      Moral of the story: Don’t trust your memory and ALWAYS check the wiring with your voltage sniffer just before you put your hands on it.

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