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I have two outlets that I am looking to replace:

  • Pictures indicating how they were wired up previously w/ old outlets:
    enter image description here enter image description here
  • New outlets are just heavy duty Leviton Decora 15v units

These outlets are on the same wall, about 10 feet from one another.

I think I know how to wire up outlet #1 (basically just the same as the previous old unit): whites on silver screws, blacks on brass screws, ground on ground screw).

I'm confused by outlet #2:

  • Why are there no hot wires. Is this because it's part of a "daisy chained" series of outlets, and thus when I disconnected outlet #1, outlet #2 was effectively disconnected?
  • Why are the white and black wires crossed? My naïve understanding was white on silver, black on brass, but this outlet is doing something different. What gives?
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  • Outlet two is confusing. If that was the way it was wired/connected up, then the breaker should have tripped instantly. It is always black on one side and white on the other side. With two cables/pair of black/white on an outlet, one pair is power coming in, and the other pair is power going out to another device(outlet/light/switch).
    – crip659
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 0:05
  • Make doubly sure you check there is no power to each outlet. Just because they are on the same wall close to each other, does not mean they are on the same breaker.
    – crip659
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 0:23
  • Yes, thank you. I tested with my voltage stick multiple times. Commented May 30, 2023 at 0:27
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    Is outlet #2 half switched from a switch? It's possible it's an improperly installed switch loop. Are either of the tabs broken off on the receptacle? Commented May 30, 2023 at 2:02

1 Answer 1

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Why are there no hot wires. Is this because it's part of a "daisy chained" series of outlets, and thus when I disconnected outlet #1, outlet #2 was effectively disconnected?

Yes. It looks like both outlets are being used as splices, to carry incoming power on to another device. This is entirely ordinary. If you turn the breaker back on while all the devices are removed, everything downstream of the first removed device will not have power.

Why are the white and black wires crossed? My naive understanding was white on silver, black on brass, but this outlet is doing something different. What gives?

Assuming you didn't mis-remember how it was hooked up, probably somebody just hooked it up wrong before. In an AC system, polarity doesn't really have many observable effects - things will work just fine with line and neutral swapped. It can of course be very dangerous if a person touches something that should be neutral and it's actually hot, especially if there is no GFCI.

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  • Thank you, this looks like what was happening. I first installed outlet #1, wiring it just as the previous old unit had been wired. With that in place, the bottom-right black on outlet #2 became hot. I will wire outlet #2 correctly, ensuring white on silver and black on brass. Commented May 30, 2023 at 0:29
  • In the image the OP has marked that white and black wires were on the same side of the outlet, not reverse sides.
    – crip659
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 0:36
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    @crip659 Yeah I read the OP. What’s your point? As long as the incoming cable wires go to opposite sides of the outlet (and same for the outgoing cable) there will be no short, only polarity reversal. You’d have to have both wires from one cable connected to the same side (with the tab intact) for a short. Since they didn’t mention the breaker tripping as soon as it was turned on (rendering the old outlets useless) that probably was not the case.
    – nobody
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 0:59

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