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Reversing black and white wiring in an outlet?

766 Views 26 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Jeekinz
Hello all,

I'm trying to troubleshoot the lack of power I'm getting from an outlet ... and I'm wondering if the existing wiring has somehow been reversed. I'd love to swap the black(yellow) and white wiring to test the possibility, but I'm not sure the ramifications if I'm wrong and wanted to ask first.

Details of what I'm dealing with:

  • See attached picture of the outlet.
  • It is a bathroom ceiling fan outlet connected to a wall switch.
  • I've tested electricity at the wall switch and it is ok.
  • I've tested electricity coming to the outlet in the picture, and all the wires are live.
  • The wall switch successfully turns on and off current to the socket.
  • I had a replacement socket head (with attached wires) sent to me from the fan company in case the old one was faulty, but swapping it has not fixed the problem.
  • The wires going into the socket head are live.

In short, it appears all wiring leading up to the socket head itself are working, and the socket head is brand new ... but ... there is no power to anything I plug in. The fan won't power up. And separate appliances I've plugged in also don't power up. The fan and separate appliances all work fine with other outlets.

So this leaves me wondering if the black and white wires were potentially wired backwards ... or if that would even cause the socket not to work.

Any help/thoughts appreciated and ty.


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· Registered
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do NOT reverse and test! Only always use an approved voltage tester. The contactless testers can beep even with small voltage; best to use a multimeter. The hot to neutral must be ~120V, hot to ground also ~ 120V. The Neutral to ground may sometimes show phantom Voltages (~17 V, 29V etc).
Turn the breaker OFF then unscrew the nuts. Identify the wires from the breaker vs the wires that go to the receptacle on the fan housing. This is important because I have seen electricians using "whatever" color wire was available instead of following color code. After you identify, tag the hot wire from the breaker. It is likely the "line" is being fed from a junction box in the attic that also feeds another load.
Once you have identified and marked the wires then it is all super easy. Good luck
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