It’s not that unusual for us to inspect a newer home that is occupied by a family with young children, and find that they have installed plastic safety caps over all the plugs that the kids can reach, but don’t realize that they already have tamper resistant receptacles. Their plastic caps are a redundant nuisance that are not really all that kid-proof, whereas the receptacles themselves are impossible for a child to poke something into and get shocked.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) began requiring tamper resistant receptacles with 2008 edition of the code, so all recently built houses have them. Here’s how to recognize a tamper resistant receptacle:
- The letters “TR” are embossed between the two vertical slots (hot and neutral).
- Tamper resistant receptacles use a plastic shutter just inside the two vertical slots, and it will not release unless equal pressure is applied to both of them at the same time by the two prongs of an electrical cord. When you look into the two slots, you can see the plastic shutter plate. If there is low light in the room, you may have to shine at flashlight at the receptacle to observe it. The two slots are just dark holes in a regular receptacle.
Unfortunately, the shutter mechanism on these child-proof receptacles can be a little stiff when the receptacle is new, and applying uneven pressure or pressing from an angle will not activate the release mechanism—which is why they are also adult-proof until you get used to them. Trying to insert a cord with damaged or bent prongs can be a problem too.
Also see When did tamper resistant receptacle outlets become required by code? and Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe? and Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized? and When should I replace electric receptacle outlets?
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To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:
• What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?
• What is the code requirement for GFCI protection for receptacles near a wet bar sink?
• What is the requirement for a service receptacle outlet for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HACR) equipment?
• Why is an opening in the wall around the side of an electrical receptacle outlet a safety defect?
• When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required?
• What is allowable voltage range at a wall receptacle outlet in a house?
• When should I replace electric receptacle outlets?
• Does an electric receptacle outlet in a storage shed require GFCI protection?
• What are "self-contained" electrical receptacle outlets and switches?
• What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?
• Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?
• What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?
• Can I remove a 240-volt range receptacle and hard-wire the range?
• What is a "backstab" receptacle outlet?
• Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?
• What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet?
• Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?
• When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?
• Does a home inspector remove receptacle outlet cover plates?
• What is the minimum height for an exterior receptacle outlet?
• When was the current receptacle/outlet spacing of 12-feet first required?
• When was the three-slot (grounding) outlet/receptacle first required?
• How many electrical receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?
• What problems does having too many electric receptacle outlets on a single circuit cause?
• Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacle outlets?
• How I can tell if a receptacle outlet is tamper resistant?
• Why is there a GFCI breaker in the electric panel for the bathroom shower light and exhaust fan?
• What is a false ground, bootleg ground, or cheated ground receptacle?
• How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?
• How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced?
• How far above a kitchen countertop do electrical outlets have to be?
• What is reversed polarity at an outlet/receptacle? Why is it dangerous?
• How high above the floor do electric outlets/receptacles in a garage have to be?
• How far apart should electric receptacles be spaced in a bathroom?
• Is an ungrounded electric receptacle outlet dangerous?
• My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?
• Is there an adapter that can be placed on a two-slot receptacle to make it safe?
• How do the new tamper-resistant electric outlets work?
• Why is there no bathroom electric receptacle in this old house?
• How can I tell if the electric receptacle outlets are grounded?
• How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?
• What are the most common problems/defects found with electric receptacle outlets during a home inspection?
Visit our ELECTRICAL page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.