Wiring Level: Acceptable

My work is done. Now to reward myself with a case of wine.

– Helen Lovejoy

I picked up a little steam from finishing the fort, and decided to pick something else achievable: closing out the electrical permit. The electrical has been up and running for a while, but to get the permit closed, we need a final inspection. That meant buttoning up the remaining items in hopes of a one-stop approval.

The punch list included:

  • Closing up junction boxes.
  • Installing outlet plates.
  • Labeling lines and circuits.
  • Installing arc fault breakers.

There were a lot of fiddly things to do, but we thought that was it. And then we had a last-minute panic involving TAMPER RESISTANT RECEPTACLES.

troutlet

TR receptacle — see how the slots are closed?

I was so excited about making sure that I had the Electrical Code’s arc fault requirement pinned down that I somehow missed this more basic “new” (2008) requirement. All receptacles need to be tamper-resistant.

When I was a kid, I playfully pulled the vacuum cleaner’s plug out of the wall, upon which my mother appeared over me and impressed upon me the importance of resisting the temptation to tamper with an outlet.

That's right, Mom -- in my memory, you are Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony.

In my toddler memory, Mom appears as Pinkie Pie of My Little Pony fame.

Because parents can’t be everywhere all the time, the “resistant” part is now built-in: plastic shutters inside the slots that will only open if both slots are accessed at the same time. The hypothetical child-tamperer would have to work pretty hard to stick something into both slots simultaneously.

A single-implement approach is more traditional.

A single-implement approach is more traditional.

The tamper-resistant receptacles were about $1.25 apiece at Menards, compared to $0.39 for un-tamper-resistant (tamper receptive?) outlets. That they have in huge bins at eye level. Even though they can only be used residentially above five feet or behind large appliances. And most DIY store customers are homeowners.

Hmm...

Maybe the margin on obsolete receptacles is high? And big box stores don’t care if they meet code or not? Mostly the latter, I suspect.

There’s only so far you can trust a place selling you something. After all, some tile guy at Menards recently suggested we use Liquid Nails for ceramic tile installation. Compelling idea, but completely goofy. WHAT’S THE MARGIN ON LIQUID NAILS, MENARDS?

[Having said all that, commenter Marie noted below that some cities might still be on the prior version of the code or allow like-for-like swaps. Both may well be true, as well as the fact that Marie is more charitable than I am.]

But I digress (in all-caps). Back on topic, this requirement also includes GFCI outlets, which are rather more than $1.25 each.

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“TR”: tamper resistant; “WR”: weather resistant (likely just coincidentally, owing to the holes being covered with plastic)

All told, we had three GFCIs and over 20 regular receptacles to change out. When we chatted with the inspector about the switch, he said, “Yeah, and there are a LOT of outlets up here!” Dude. I know.

Anyway, they are all in now, and we passed the inspection. WOOOO! What I haven’t passed is the upper-body-strength test for plugging in my hair dryer.

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3 Responses to Wiring Level: Acceptable

  1. marie says:

    I was wondering why my new home has all TR outlets. Shoulda known that the GC wouldn’t spring for the more expensive option for any other reason than code. haha. (side note: no GCs again. nopenopenope).

    fyi some places are still on 2006 IRC, and even if local codes are 2008 many times like exchanges are allowed with no inspection required (to explain the Menard’s bucket’o’cheapos).

    Did you find that the inspector was more diligent b/c this is a homeowner permit?

  2. Stacey says:

    Marie, sounds like you have a good story about your GC! Sometimes, the only good thing you get out of a situation is the story.

    You make a good point about the 2006 version and the swap-out possibility; I will edit to mention that above. I may have gone to the Dark Side too easily on that!

    On the inspector, waaaaaay back when we had our rough-in inspection, we also had an electrician on site wiring the AC and putting in the subpanel and he said we got off super-easy on the rough-in. He pointed out a few things that he said weren’t dangerous but were technically wrong that he would have been flagged for (including, for instance, putting wires into a stud-mounted box through the stud-side access point rather than through the far side). So I think he cut us some slack on stuff like that. He used a socket tester on a good percentage of outlets at the final — probably more than he would have done for a pro job, so more diligent on that. We always have the same inspector for electrical, and he seems to know we’re pretty careful, which is nice.

  3. Ah, yes, indeed. Luckily I was somehow marginally aware of this and we bought the correct outlets the first time around. Our electrial permit is still open and will be for sometime so it seems. Nearly everything is complete, including covers on, except for the bathroom which remained only partially drywalled. Jeepers, I really need to make a post. Glad to hear your project is coming along.

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