DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

Reversing black and white wiring in an outlet?

683 26
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.


Automotive lighting Automotive tire Fixture Electrical wiring Automotive exterior

Automotive tire Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Automotive design Bumper
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

· Master Electrician
4,735 Posts
Remove both wire nut connections. With a meter, check the voltage on the yellow and white. Check the voltage from yellow to ground. +/-120 volts at yellow and white would indicate poor wire nut connections. Zero voltage at yellow and white AND 120 volts between yellow and ground would indicate a compromised neutral.

· Master Electrician
4,735 Posts
Further testing ...

What I've noticed is that the hot seems to have a high voltage connection ... but the white neutral also has current running through it, but showing as low voltage. I know my small volt tester isn't ideal, but it seems to work well enough to confirm the white and black(yellow in this case) both have a current running through them.

Am I correct in assuming that the white neutral should not have any current when nothing is plugged in?

Here were the results of the tests:

  • Yellow to nut = High
  • Black(yellow) after nut = High
  • White to nut = Low
  • White after nut = Low
  • Plug hot side = High
  • Plug neutral side = Low
Not sure if it's relevant, but there are multiple lights all on the same line leading up to the bathroom, and everything else appears to work fine.
Your tests show nothing other than there is possibly VOLTAGE on the yellow conductor. NCV testers do not indicate a current flow.
1 - 3 of 3 Posts