How to Find an Open Hot in a House Circuit


When a circuit in your home is dead or has no power, it is known as an "open hot." You can find an open hot in a house circuit by using an electrical tester. Testers can come in a variety of types such as an electrostatic wand and a three-pronged receptacle tester. These testers have lights or sounds that indicate the presence of an open hot on a circuit.

Things You'll Need

  • Electrostatic wand
  • Three-pronged receptacle tester

Electrostatic Wand

  • Open the door to the circuit panel and make sure that all of the breakers are on and that none have been tripped.

  • Find an electrical outlet or see if there are any exposed electrical wires in the area.

  • Hold the electrostatic wand to the wire or cable until the indicator light comes on or a sound is heard. You may need to hold the wand at different angles to get a reading.

  • Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you have tested all of the electrical wires or outlets in the home.

Three-Pronged Receptacle Tester

  • Obtain a three-pronged receptacle tester. Save the instructions on the package to cross-reference the readings on the tester.

  • Plug the tester into a three-pronged outlet and then wait to see the resulting pattern of the light indicators.

  • Compare the pattern of the light indicator to the diagrams on the instructions. The presence of an open hot is indicated when there are no lights on the tester.

  • Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for all of the three-pronged outlets in the house.

Tips & Warnings

  • An open hot can occur when a breaker is tripped on the circuit panel.
  • If the power is not turned on or not connected to the circuit panel, you will not be able to find an open hot in a house circuit.

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  • Photo Credit electric outlet 2 image by Dawn Williams from
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