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Upside down receptacles?


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Hello,

I just finished inspecting a new condo being finished in Downstown Sarasota. All receptacles throughout the unit were installed upside-down (grounding prong on top).

Is this a new practice?

Isn't it a safety hazards since if a plug starts to loosen up the first prong that would unplug is the grounding prong?

Thank for your time and comments!

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The 'why' of the upside down receptacle is this:

If the cover plate is metal and it loosened and slipped, it would hit the ground pin first and it would be 'safer' instead of hitting the hot/neutral blades of the plugged-in appliance cordset.

All this stuff has a 'why' attached to it. That is the only reason. If the cover plate is plastic, it is a non-reason. It's for the metal cover plate. (Formerly, metal cover plates that slipped-down could land on the hot/neutral and bang...! ). Now you know the rest of the story as they say..

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This is also a real common way for outlets in commercial settings to be installed. Truth be know it is probably the best way to install an outlet. Not just for metal cover plates, the same logic holds true for any metallic object contacting the blades. It will contact the ground and not the hot blades. From what I have seen, when I find outlets with the ground on top I seldom find any major issues with the electrical unless it has been changed from the original install.

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Originally posted by SteveSarasota

Hello,

I just finished inspecting a new condo being finished in Downstown Sarasota. All receptacles throughout the unit were installed upside-down (grounding prong on top).

Is this a new practice?

Isn't it a safety hazards since if a plug starts to loosen up the first prong that would unplug is the grounding prong?

Thank for your time and comments!

They can be installed with any orientation that you want. It doesn't matter.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Yes, they can be installed in either orientation since the electrical code does not state a preference. If we are going to be 'performance based' home inspectors then I think receptacles should be installed with the grounding slot up in a vertical installation and with the neutral slot up in a horizontal installation for the reasons mentioned by Scott P.

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So what are you saying? That you'd write them up as a deficiency if you didn't find them installed that way? That's kind of like making up the rules of the game as you play, isn't it? While I see the logic in these explanations, I don't think we have any business making stuff up.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Originally posted by nspctrdan

Yes, they can be installed in either orientation since the electrical code does not state a preference. If we are going to be 'performance based' home inspectors then I think receptacles should be installed with the grounding slot up in a vertical installation and with the neutral slot up in a horizontal installation for the reasons mentioned by Scott P.

Personally, if I'm going to make a recommendation that goes beyond what I can back up with a code citation, I like to have a substantial rationale for it. I don't see one here. If I saw a lot of metal receptacle coverplates and if it were common for them to be set in place without their screw and if there were plugs in the receptacles that were plugged in tightly enough to be energized but loosely enough to allow the coverplates to slide down then I might consider the orientation of the receptacles to be important. Since I don't see those conditions, I don't consider it to be important.

If I were to call this sort of thing out as a defect, it would lessen my credibility.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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If more than one duplex receptacle is installed in a box, one electrician I knows likes to install them in *alternating* orientations - he claims this makes it easier for users to find a way to plug in multiple "wall-wart" style transformers from different manufactures.

This would drive me crazy... but then, it bothers me if the screw heads on every cover plate in my house are not aligned with the long dimension of the plate, or vertically if none – I guess you could say I’m a *bit* compulsive [:)].

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Tad off-topic,

This reminds me of those danged anti-inspector plastic covers that people stick in all of their receptacles. They claim it's for child protection but I just know it had to be some ticked-off home seller who invented those things to get back at inspectors. Some days you can wear out the tips of your fingers prying those damned things off every accessible receptacle. [:-gnasher

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Receptacle orientaton isn't something I've ever commented on. Every once in a blue moon, I find the switched receptacles in the bedrooms have been oriented in the opposite direction of the non-switched ones. That's a nice gift from the installer.

Mike, take the child saftey covers off with a tester prong and you'll save your fingertips.

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Concerning popping off those child protectors I use one of the blades of my 3 light outlet tester like a screwdriver to insert behind them and pop them off. You can get quite good at after a while and do it in one single action.

By the way I have 7 kids. The oldest is 18 and the youngest is 1 and I have never used those things and have never had a kid get hurt.

I think they are for fire and forget parenting.

I have heard of stories though where children were killed. I heard one story about a kid that had backed up against one with a wet diaper and got electrocuted.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Concerning popping off those child protectors I use one of the blades of my 3 light outlet tester like a screwdriver to insert behind them and pop them off. You can get quite good at after a while and do it in one single action.

By the way I have 7 kids. The oldest is 18 and the youngest is 1 and I have never used those things and have never had a kid get hurt.

I think they are for fire and forget parenting.

I have heard of stories though where children were killed. I heard one story about a kid that had backed up against one with a wet diaper and got electrocuted.

Chris, Oregon

True story:

When I was about 2, my mother entered my room just in time to see me sticking a paper clip into a receptacle. She was too late to reach me before I was blown halfway across the room, dazed, but ok. She thought, "Well, at least we won't have to worry about him doing that again."

I was doing it again 10 minutes later.

Actually, it set up a pattern that I've followed for the rest of my life.

- Jim, Oregon

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My brother got curious once and stuck each end of a 3 foot piece of insulated 18 ga. solid in the slots of a wall outlet. In maybe 1 good second the plastic insulation fell off all at once, like it was liquid (I guess it practically was at the time). It looked like a magic trick. I was about 6, so I thought it was cool in spite of his burned fingers. [:-propell

Brian G.

Siblings Are Good Entertainment (Sometimes) [:-slaphap

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It's the electrician's preference in our area. Personally, I think smile is better, ground on bottom because grounded plugs stay in better. Less chance for arcing, etc. from loose plugs. Ever see a fridge plug with the wire coming off the top and all bent around. Not good. Some electricians around here put smile on all but switched outlets, which is great because it makes them easy to identify and will just have 2 prong light cords plugged in anyway. Smile![:-alien]

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