Mixed Hot/Neutral Wires


Old 11-11-12, 12:06 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 46
Mixed Hot/Neutral Wires

Hello, I am trying to replace a wall receptacle that is connected to two black and two white wires. However, I noticed that the black/white pairings are mixed: in other words, one of the black wires (call it B1) is on the top right but the white wire (call it W1) coming from the same cable as B1 is connected to the bottom left; B2 is on the bottom right, while W2 is on the top left:

W2 B1
W1 B2

For all other receptacles that I have seen, the pairing is B1 on the top right, W1 on the top left, B2 on the bottom right, W2 on the bottom left:

W1 B1
W2 B2

The old receptacle has been working fine, but I am wondering whether there is any reason to switch the two white wires to have the correct pairing or any reason to actually keep the current pairing?
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Old 11-11-12, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
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There is no problem with that. If you look closely at the side of the outlet, you will see that the metal plate behind the screw is connected to the metal plate behind the other screw.

Just as a note, this is not the best wire to wire the outlets together on the same circuit. It is perfectly safe, but if one outlet becomes defective, it will prevent all the other outlets down the line form working. It can also make troubleshooting which outlet is the problem more time consuming. The better way to wire them is to use a pigtail. You would take the two neutral wires from the incoming cables and wire nut them together with a 3rd wire that goes to the outlet. The 3rd wire is the "pigtail". The same is done for the hot and ground wire. No need to change anything, but if you need to replace an outlet, you should wire it that way.
Old 11-11-12, 12:15 PM
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It makes no difference. The only place that that is different is on a GFI.
Old 11-11-12, 12:19 PM
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Receptacles have no top or bottom. What counts is black (or red or blue or yellow) to brass and White (or gray) to silver. You will notice that there is a tab between the screws on each side so the wires on each side are actually both tied together.

There are exceptions to what I have stated above but they do not apply to your situation.
Old 11-12-12, 07:43 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 46
Thank you, this was helpful.

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