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Q: Why are my outlets installed upside-down?


Upside Down Outlet
Question: Q: Why are my outlets installed upside-down?
A reader has asked why her three-prong outlets are installed upside-down. What she means is that the ground portion is on the top, not bottom (see image).
Answer: First, be assured that, with outlets, there is no top or bottom. Unlike light switches, it doesn't matter which way is up or down. They work equally in either position. But for the sake of clarity, we'll call the configuration you're referring to as "upside-down."

It's not clear why your outlets might be upside-down, as the electrical code mandates nothing regarding positioning. My best guess is that your outlet is controlled by a switch. So, you might have a light switch turning the outlet on and off, which is valuable when you have a floor lamp you want to turn on when you enter a room. Some electricians will turn the outlet upside-down to indicate a switch-controlled receptacle.

Barring that, it could be:

  • The electrician simply put the outlets in upside-down because that is his convention.
  • It may be seen as being safer. If a three-prong ground plug of this type comes partially out, a metallic object that accidentally hits it will hit the ground first.
  • It holds better. Some electricians and DIYers may believe that a three-prong plug installed in this fashion holds tighter into the outlet.
Still find this visually disturbing? It's a simple matter to fix. You don't even have to re-wire anything.
  1. Go to your electrical service panel and off the circuit breaker.
  2. Turn out the screws holding the face place in place.
  3. Turn out the screws holding the outlet in place.
  4. Gently turn the outlet around 180 degrees so that it is now "right." Caution: be very careful when you turn the wires, so that you do not dislodge any connections.
  5. Replace outlet screws and face plate.

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