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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Question 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 hereís 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 Iím not so sure it really matters in the end with it being AC. Iíve wired panels before so thatís not a problem, I just donít want to do more work than necessary, considering Iím 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, isnít that somehow affecting my downstairs wiring since itís connected to it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default 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.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default 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.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    612

    Default 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?

  5. #5
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    Default 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.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
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    720

    Default 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.
    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, Hidden Content

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    212

    Smile Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by bp21901 View Post
    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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    212

    Question Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    bringing it up to code is a smart idea.
    Yes I've decided to not only fix the wiring but to also install a brand new sub panel. The one in there now is the older style with screw in fuses. Loews has a new 10 space subpanel for 30.00 which gives me 4 extra spaces for expanding if needed. It's not to costly and since I have to rewire the subpanel anyway might as well update it now.

    When I was looking closer at the sub panel currently in there I noticed that the bottom two fuse sockets were corroded (see picture below). What would cause this?



  9. #9
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    Dec 2007
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    Tennessee
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    1,745

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by MyMilan View Post
    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.
    Last edited by keith3267; 08-21-2012 at 02:00 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,803

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

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

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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