How to Fix an Upside-Down Outlet

Having an upside-down outlet can be annoying and look unsightly. More importantly, it can pose a safety hazard if devices plugged into the outlet become loose and fall out. Fortunately, fixing an upside-down outlet is usually a quick and easy job that most homeowners can tackle themselves.

What Causes an Upside-Down Outlet?

There are a few common reasons an outlet may have been installed upside down:

  • The electrician wired the outlet incorrectly by mistake. We all have off days!
  • The outlet is positioned upside down in relation to other outlets on the same wall. Sometimes outlets end up arranged inconsistently if installed or replaced at different times.
  • The outlet is correctly positioned for its intended purpose. For example, an upside down outlet above a kitchen counter is designed to accommodate appliances with downward-facing plugs.
  • The previous homeowner deliberately installed it upside down as a safety precaution. Upside down outlets are sometimes used to prevent curious children from inserting objects into the slots.

So in most cases, an upside down outlet is not necessarily installed wrong, it just may not suit your needs or preferences. The good news is it’s an easy fix.

Dangers of Upside Down Outlets

While it may seem harmless, an upside down outlet can present some risks:

  • Loose connections – The weight of devices plugged in pulls downward, loosening the connection over time. This can lead to sparks, fires, or device malfunctions.
  • Falling objects – Unsecured plugs can fall out of an upside down outlet more easily, causing damage to electronics or injury if heavy devices fall.
  • Difficult to use – Upside down outlets in awkward positions make plugging in devices a nuisance. You may find yourself contorting plugs or using extensions when you shouldn’t need to.
  • Safety hazard – Children can more easily insert objects into an upside down outlet, risking shocks and electrocution.

So while upside down outlets might seem like just an aesthetic annoyance, fixing them provides some important safety benefits.

How to Tell if an Outlet is Upside Down

The slots on a correctly oriented outlet will be on the top with the ground hole on the bottom. Upside down outlets have the ground hole on top.

To check:

  • Unplug all devices from the outlet.
  • Turn off the circuit breaker supplying power to the outlet.
  • Remove the outlet cover and inspect the orientation. The hot slot is typically larger than the neutral slot.
  • Compare the outlet to others on the same wall. They should all match.
  • Identify the source of power entering the box. The black hot wire should be attached to the darker hot slot screw.

If you determine the outlet is definitely upside down, then it’s time to reverse it. Just make sure the power is off!

Preparing to Fix an Upside Down Outlet

Fixing an upside down outlet is well within the DIY capabilities of most homeowners. But like any electrical work, some safety preparations should be made first:

Turn Off Power at the Breaker

Locate the circuit breaker controlling the upside down outlet and switch it OFF. Verify power is off by plugging in a tester or lamp. All outlets on the same circuit will lose power.

Purchase a Voltage Tester

A non-contact voltage tester is a must-have electrical tool. Double check for any live power before touching wires.

Gather Supplies

You may need:

  • Replacement outlet, matching the old type and amperage rating
  • Wire stripper
  • Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Electrical tape

Allow Enough Time

Don’t rush! Turning an outlet upside down is not difficult but it does involve working inside the electrical box. Set aside 30-60 minutes in case any wires need to be replaced.

Consider Hiring an Electrician

If you don’t feel fully confident working with electrical wiring, hire a professional electrician. Safety should be the top priority.

Once you have prepped your tools, supplies, and working space, you’re ready to flip that outlet right side up!

How to Fix an Upside Down Outlet

Follow these steps to safely and correctly reverse an upside down outlet’s orientation:

1. Turn Off Power and Remove the Old Outlet

Double check the circuit breaker is OFF. Then unscrew and remove the old upside down outlet from the electrical box. Carefully pull it away from the box without damaging any wires.

2. Inspect the Wiring

Examine the wires entering the box from the back or top and those connected to the outlet. Ensure insulation is intact with no exposed copper. Replace aging or damaged wires.

3. Detach Wires from the Outlet

Use a screwdriver to loosen each screw and detach the wires from the upside down outlet. Keep track of which wires connect to each screw. If necessary, label wires with tape to identify hot vs. neutral.

4. Prepare Wires for New Outlet

Strip away about 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of each wire using wire strippers. Bend wire ends into a hook shape for reattachment. Ensure no copper is exposed beyond the hook.

5. Mount and Connect New Properly Oriented Outlet

Attach the new right-side-up outlet to the electrical box using long screws through the mounting ears. Connect each wire hook to the matching terminal screw – hot wires to brass screws, neutral to silver.

6. Secure Wires and Outlet

Double check wire connections are tight. No copper should be exposed. Carefully tuck wires into the box so outlet fits flush to wall. Install the cover plate and switch circuit breaker back ON.

Be sure to test the outlet with a lamp to ensure proper function. If the outlet doesn’t work, turn the power back OFF and check all connections before calling an electrician. With the power flowing correctly, you can finally enjoy an outlet that’s oriented right!

FAQs About Fixing Upside Down Outlets

Still have questions about flipping your upside down outlet? Here are some frequently asked questions:

Is it against code to have an upside down outlet?

  • No, upside down outlets themselves are not against electrical code. It’s common to find them in older homes. However, improperly wired connections are against code.

Do outlets have a top and bottom?

  • Yes, outlets are designed to be oriented a certain way. The ground pin hole will always be on the ‘bottom’ for safety.

What if I’m not sure which wire is hot vs. neutral?

  • Use a multimeter or voltage tester to identify the live hot wire entering the box before disconnecting anything.

Can I plug devices into an upside down outlet safely?

  • It’s best to fix an upside down outlet for the safety issues mentioned earlier. You can temporarily use it but monitor cords closely.

Should I replace the outlet or just rewire the existing one?

  • If the outlet is very old, worn, or damaged, replace it. Modern outlets have more safety features. But rewiring only works too.

How do I determine the correct amp rating for a replacement outlet?

  • Check the specifications on the existing outlet, or use a matching replacement outlet designed for your home’s electrical system.

Is it OK to have multiple types of outlets on one wall?

  • Mixing outlet styles on one wall can look messy but it’s not dangerous. Having them all upside down is the real issue!

Can I add an outlet extender to make plugging in devices easier?

  • Yes, short extension cords are a safe temporary fix. But for a permanent solution, properly reorienting the outlet is best.


While an upside down outlet generally won’t cause any catastrophic issues, fixing the orientation provides some nice benefits by bringing the outlet up to current safety standards. The work involved is straightforward for a DIYer, but always exercise caution and turn off power first when modifying electrical wiring. If in doubt, call an electrician. Enjoy your newly reoriented outlets!

How to Fix an Upside-Down Outlet

Reorienting an upside-down outlet is a relatively quick and easy fix for most do-it-yourselfers. By following some safety precautions and using the right tools, you can flip that outlet right-side up in about an hour or less.

The most important step is to turn off power to the outlet at the main circuit breaker panel before doing any work. Verify power is off by using a non-contact voltage detector and plugging in a test lamp.

You’ll need some basic electrical supplies – a screwdriver, wire strippers, electrical tape, and possibly a new outlet that matches the old one. Working with the power off, remove the old outlet and disconnect the wires. Pay attention to where each wire was attached.

Strip the ends and reconnect the wires properly to a new right-side-up outlet. Double check your connections, secure the outlet in the electrical box, then flip the breaker back on once everything is finished.

Test that the outlet works and you’re finished. While not overly complicated, upside down outlets can present some safety issues over time. Investing a small amount of time and money to fix them is worthwhile for any homeowner. If unsure about working with electrical wiring, hiring an electrician ensures it’s done safely.

Steps for Fixing an Upside-Down Outlet

Follow these key steps to reverse an upside-down outlet quickly and safely:

  • Verify the outlet is in fact upside-down by checking ground pin placement.
  • Turn off power to the outlet at the main breaker panel.
  • Use a contactless voltage tester to double check the power is off.
  • Remove cover plate screws then pull the outlet from the electrical box.
  • Label wires with tape to identify hot vs. neutral if needed.
  • Detach the wires from the outlet terminals using a screwdriver.
  • Secure a new properly oriented outlet in the electrical box.
  • Reconnect the wires to the matching hot and neutral terminals.
  • Verify tight wire connections, tuck wires neatly into the box.
  • Reattach the outlet cover plate and turn power back on once finished.
  • Test the outlet to ensure normal function. Call an electrician if issues.

Why Fix an Upside-Down Outlet?

At first glance, an upside-down outlet may seem harmless. But repairing the orientation provides some worthwhile benefits:

  • Prevents Loose Connections – Gravity can loosen plugs over time, leading to dangerous heat/sparks.
  • Avoids Falling Objects – Heavy devices can fall out of an upside-down outlet more easily.
  • Easier to Use – Plugging in devices is more difficult into awkward upside-down outlets.
  • Improves Safety – Upside-down outlets are easier for curious kids to insert objects into.
  • Looks More Consistent – When all outlets on a wall match, it gives a more seamless finished look.

Though not mandatory, properly orienting outlets brings them up to modern safety standards. The work required pays off by enhancing your home’s function and aesthetics.

Treating Other Outlet Issues

Along with flipping upside-down outlets, take the opportunity to address some other common outlet problems:

Loose Plugs – If plugs fall out easily, replace the outlet. New outlets provide tighter connections.

No GFCI Protection – Upgrade bathroom, kitchen and outdoor outlets to modern GFCI outlets to prevent shocks.

Discoloration/Heat Damage – This can indicate loose or corroded connections. Replace the affected outlets.

Cracked/Damaged Surface – Replace outlets with broken, pitted or discolored plastic housings.

Old Style Outlets – Swap outdated outlets for modern, safer tamper-resistant models.

Single-Plug Outlets – Upgrade to duplex outlets to gain an extra usable plug in the same space.

Dealing with upside-down and faulty outlets proactively enhances your home’s safety and functionality for years to come.


While frustrating, upside-down outlets are usually simple to remedy. With about an hour of time and some electrical supplies, a DIYer can remove the old outlet and install a new one in the proper orientation.

Pay close attention to wiring connections, turn the power off at the breaker first, and always put safety first when doing any electrical work. If you’re not 100% confident working with outlet wiring, hiring an electrician to flip the outlet is money well spent.

Once repaired, you’ll gain easier use of the outlet along with safety benefits from bringing it up to modern standards. Be sure to check other outlets at the same time for issues that need correcting like loose connections or lack of GFCI protection. Investing some periodic maintenance into your home’s electrical system provides helpful peace of mind.