How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
How I can tell if a receptacle outlet is tamper resistant?
Sunday, July 22, 2018
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:
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