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William
Wired Backwards?

Around 30 years ago the upstairs attic was converted into a bedroom. I am now in the process of doing redecorating (painting, replacing the electrical outlets and covers. etc.) I have completed a lot of electrical work in the past but I did not wire the upstairs sub panel. The other day I replaced the first electrical outlet upstairs. I was always taught white goes to silver, and black goes to brass, but I noticed that it was wired white to brass, and black to silver. I also noticed that it was physically installed upside down. I never really thought about it before because my electrical tester (when plugged into the outlet) showed that they were wired correctly.

So here’s my question, should I go through the trouble of rewiring the entire sub panel, or should I wire the rest of the outlets backwards - keeping in mind that the electrical tester shows the wiring is correct? If this was DC the answer would be obvious, but I’m not so sure it really matters in the end with it being AC. I’ve wired panels before so that’s not a problem, I just don’t want to do more work than necessary, considering I’m going to be replacing all the outlets anyways. My gut tells me to reverse the wiring from the main panel to the sub panel, but how necessary is this?

Also, with my upstairs wiring being backwards, isn’t that somehow affecting my downstairs wiring since it’s connected to it?

A. Spruce
Re: Wired Backwards?

Personally, I'd clean it up, not only for my own safety and piece of mind, but for that of anyone who followed my work.

As to the outlets being upside down, this has become a more common practice so that should a plug get worked loose and something falls across it, it will fall on the ground and not the live wires.

dj1
Re: Wired Backwards?

Your upstair attic wiring is not to code. Like spruce suggests, bringing it up to code is a smart idea. Just do it or have it professionally done.

bp21901
Re: Wired Backwards?

You are correct...black to brass, white to silver.

Just so I am clear on this...

Are your black wires in the sub panel going to the neutral bus bar with the grounds and the white wires on the breakers?

dj1
Re: Wired Backwards?

It's entirely possible that whoever wired the attic did everything in reverse, which means that everything is working fine, except for the wire color confusion.

The whole idea behind the color wires is to standardize everything to meet a national uniform code.

The fact that the outlets are upside down is meaningless.

Have an electrician restore order in your wirings.

Re: Wired Backwards?

Sometimes the screw color is wrong. The main thing is that you have the "hot" connected to the small blade and the "neutral to the larger blade and of course the bare or green to the receptacle yoke or frame.

I wonder how the colors from the source to the sub-panel could be wrong. If the white (neutral) is connected to the neutral bar and the black is connected to the breaker, the subpanel should be correct.

keith3267
Re: Wired Backwards?
MyMilan wrote:

So here’s my question, should I go through the trouble of rewiring the entire sub panel, or should I wire the rest of the outlets backwards - keeping in mind that the electrical tester shows the wiring is correct? If this was DC the answer would be obvious, but I’m not so sure it really matters in the end with it being AC.

It matters, it absolutely matters on the 120 V circuits. The white wire is the return and has no voltage on it. The black carries the 120VAC. On an appliance with an on/off switch, if the 120 VAC is on the wrong plug, the whole appliance is "hot" and just looking for a ground or return. If someone were to poke something inside, they could get electrocuted. Before toasters got polarized plugs, this was a common shock hazard in homes.

If the wiring is correct and a polarized plug is used, only the hot wire to the on/off switch is hot when the appliance is off. I know it is common sense to not stick something into an appliance that is still plugged in, but common sense doesn't seem to be all that common anymore, especially in a society where if you survive doing something stupid, you get rich, if you don't survive, then your heirs get rich instead.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Wired Backwards?

Or toughing the lamp base when installing or removing a lamp.

Jack

Lawrenc
Re: Wired Backwards?

That will not have any effect on wires by changing its location it will work as usually it was working..... I wouldnt recommend you to again open the wirings and all just to change the wires from right to left

Re: Wired Backwards?

Hi

It is just swapping black for white at every point. The catch will be if the guy used any switch loops and if they are easily identifiablee.

William
Re: Wired Backwards?
bp21901 wrote:

Are your black wires in the sub panel going to the neutral bus bar with the grounds and the white wires on the breakers?

I haven't looked that far into yet. It's got to be either backwards upstairs at the subpanel, or in the basement where they tapped off of the main panel. The first thing that I want to do is to install a switched light in that area so I don't need a flashlight. Later today I'm going to look and see how it's wired in the basement. I'll update this thread as I learn more :)

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