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Weird receptacle installation


Brandon Whitmore
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I ran into this today. I can't really think of any reason it would be a problem, but can't recall ever seeing it. The weird thing is that it is the only one in the condo like this.

Would any of you write this up for any reason?

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It looks like it has a round J- box/ cover judging by the ring visible through the paint/ texture, but didn't really want to dig around it to see for sure.

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Judging by the ring, that would be a very large round box. It looks to me that the cover plate mounting hole in the recptacle is just that, a hole and I seem to be seeing the edge of a square box at the left. Therefore, my guess is that it doesn't have a cover plate and they have just mudded in a bare receptacle in a normal square box. What's the conductivity of drywall mud?

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I think a jackleg put a round box in the wall, messed up the installation somehow, then mudded right over it.

I'd write something like, "There's a round depression around the receptacle at the XYZ. I don't know how it got there, but I'm pretty sure the receptacle isn't installed correctly. I recommend that you get an electrician to open up the box and make repairs, if any are needed. Bear in mind, if you get this work done, somebody will have to patch the hole around the receptacle."

Note that I didn't write "Recommend that you get an electrician..." because that would be substandard communication, and make educated customers wonder what I did in 8th grade.

WJ

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Originally posted by Neal Lewis

Well, I would suggest changing out the two slot receptacle anyway.

Changing out the two prong outlet without a ground being present will create a false grounded outlet. I would rather suggest having an electrician upgrade the wiring.

If someone is careful, and shuts off the power first, the compound could be removed from within the box and a coverplate installed.

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Not to mention, if it is held in place by the mud, it is only a matter of time until it breaks up and one day when something is unplugged, the outlet will come with it. Now we have exposed wiring etc. I also would take this as a sign that maybe something else is being hidden. That looks like a fresh texture on the wall, was that repair done quickly to make the house look good or to cover up something else? As we all know, a minor hack job is usually just a smaller part of a larger hack job.

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Wow, lotsa action on this one.

I could just recommend that they upgrade all of the 2 prong receptacles with 3 prong GFCI protected ones (ungrounded).

I'd hate to recommend upgrading/ replacing all of the wiring, they just did a full conversion from apartments to condos on this one -- it's already been upgraded.....[:-slaphap

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I'll bet the electrician wasn't finished with his work and the drywall contractor mudded over the box 'cause he wanted to move on to his next gig.

The electrician probably forgot about that outlet, or saw what the drywall dude did, and said, "Screw it."

I did a new house a few months ago, and the electrician was in the basement finishing up a few things. He asked if I'd been in the bedrooms yet, and I said no. Well, he said, you may notice there are no smoke detectors in them. I didn't know where he was going, so I asked why not. The why not, he explained, is that the drywallers taped and mudded over the j-boxes. I just nodded and said, "That's about right."

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While one can't see if there is a box behind this mess, let's assume there is. There is at least one NEC Code violation here that I believe applies. See NEC Art. 110.12 Mechanical Execution of Work. Electrical Equipment SHALL be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner. The AHJ would determine this and I think most AHJ would determine that this receptacle installation is not installed in that manner. Pretty much common sense too that is would require destroying part of the wall just to make a simple receptacle replacement. Doubt a competent electrician installed this, but who knows. :-)

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You're not suppose to mud in a receptacle like that. I guarantee you that it's not UL approved. Other wise the instructions would specifically say so. I'm pretty sure there is an NEC provision against it; I see it a lot with clothes dryer receptacles in my neck of the woods (Brandons neck of the woods since were only about 15 miles apart). But outside of the code or listing requirement I'll stretch my neck out and say so what?.

Chris, Oregon

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I agree it is unusual, and probably does not meet code, and is probably a fire hazard. Since they were just converted into condos you might want to ask the electrician for a UL approved product listing. If he cannot provide one then you throw us every red flag you can get.

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Since they were just converted into condos you might want to ask the electrician for a UL approved product listing

I am just guessing, but I would bet that an electrician did not do any work at this location, reason being there was a reverse polarity receptacle in that room. The only upgraded receptacles (grounded with new wires) were located in the bathroom and kitchen, while the receptacle in question was located in the living room.

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Originally posted by StevenT

Originally posted by Neal Lewis

Well, I would suggest changing out the two slot receptacle anyway.

Changing out the two prong outlet without a ground being present will create a false grounded outlet. I would rather suggest having an electrician upgrade the wiring.

Installing GFCIs (properly) could cure the grounding problem.

Also, best I recall, covering up a junction box is just plain wrong. I have no C&V handy.

WJ

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I agree, junction boxes should be accessible, and this one is not. To change the receptacle, do you dig out the plaster with a plastic scraper? All the wiring and boxes should have been upgraded simultaneously, if they weren't, then the renovation wasn't a thorough one. I guess the owner was just saving some ca$h.

I would also mention that having 2 prong receptacles (that aren't mudded in) isn't an inherent danger but could be damaging to sensitive equipment.

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