How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?
Friday, July 27, 2018
The primary purpose of the electrical box in which wall receptacles are mounted is to contain any arcing or sparking that might happen at the wire connections at the side or back or the receptacle. When combined with a cover plate, a fire-resistant box is created for safety. But if wood paneling or a wainscot is applied over an existing wall, then the wall receptacles have to be remounted forward of their original location. This exposes the wire connections to the flammable wood, as shown in the photo above.
The solution to this problem is simple: an electrical box extender, like the one shown below, which is also called a “goof ring” by electricians. It slides into the front of the existing box and extends the fire protection forward; then the receptacle is mounted to the extender with a cover plate over it. Whenever you see wood paneling or a wainscot that looks like part of a remodeling, we recommend that you pull the cover plate to verify that either the front of the original box is mounted flush with the surface of the paneling or an extender has been added.
Also, see our blog post Does a home inspector remove receptacle outlet cover plates?
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To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:
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