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Old 12-08-2008, 10:46 AM   #1
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Is painting over receptacles code????


A neighbor wants me to replace the receptacles that have been painted over. She was told that they were not legal and should be replaced.

Never run across this one before even though I have seen tons of painted receptacles in the past.

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Old 12-08-2008, 11:27 AM   #2
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Is painting over receptacles code????


You know...I'm not really sure.

Id replace them anyways, but I would not replace my neighbors stuff. Unless your an actual licensed electrician.

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Old 12-08-2008, 11:36 AM   #3
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Is painting over receptacles code????


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You know...I'm not really sure.

Id replace them anyways, but I would not replace my neighbors stuff. Unless your an actual licensed electrician.
We do all of her maintenance. She is 91 and no one looks our after her. She has no money and I do it all as a neighbor helping out a very needy neighbor.

I am trying to talk her out of it since the paint is over 20 years old. I figure if it works all this time no need to change it.
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:38 AM   #4
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Is painting over receptacles code????


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We do all of her maintenance. She is 91 and no one looks our after her. She has no money and I do it all as a neighbor helping out a very needy neighbor.

I am trying to talk her out of it since the paint is over 20 years old. I figure if it works all this time no need to change it.
It shouldn't be a problem. I would only replace them if they are really loose, or look very bad.
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:59 AM   #5
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Is painting over receptacles code????


Sounds like somebody might have been looking to take advantage of her which would be a shame.

I dont have a copy of the current NEC but I am sure someone will come along that has one and can possibly post.

There seems to be reference to 110.11 and 110.12 which could give some guidance.

If it were me, I would walk her around and test the outlets with a plug in tester and if they all show good it will make her happy.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:01 PM   #6
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Is painting over receptacles code????


She could be right...On a technicality...If the receptacles' metal contact surfaces were painted. If they painted over the plastic face I can't imagine it being an issue, and it doesn't defy code in my opinion. Code simply says you can't modify listed equipment and devices. Whether or not paint constitutes a modification is the issue that is debatable.

I've made people clean or replace electrical panels that that had their insides shot by the painter or wall texture guy...Busbars, neutral bars, everything painted. I've even fussed when the painter shoots into the electrical boxes and you can't determine black, red, or white because they're all covered in paint.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:03 PM   #7
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Is painting over receptacles code????


Who told her the painted receptacles were not legal? If it was an official electrical inspector from whatever agency enforces codes in your area, then she's probably SOL. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it as long as the paint is only on the outside of the receptacles and not on the internal contacts. As far as I know, the only code that might apply is 110.12(B) (in the 2008 NEC), which says, in part, "Internal parts of electrical equipment...shall not be damaged or contaminated by foreign materials such as paint...". I think it's stretching the code pretty far to claim that this applies to paint on the outside of a receptacle.

By the way, you can read the NEC online at no charge at the NFPA web site, although you do have to register to access it. Try this link: http://www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/Ab....asp?DocNum=70

Last edited by Matsukaze; 12-08-2008 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Added link to NEC
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:16 PM   #8
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Is painting over receptacles code????


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Who told her the painted receptacles were not legal? If it was an official electrical inspector from whatever agency enforces codes in your area, then she's probably SOL.
It was one of her church friends son who came with his mom to visit. He is some sort of crusader who wants to save the world from everything that he thinks is wrong with it. He told her it could start a fire and kill her plus it was illegal.

She is very old and doesn't get around to well. What he didn't know was that she wants to die. Her quality of life is pretty poor and she just sits on her couch all day and does nothing.

But at the same time she wants to have then swapped out. I never really thought about the code issue before.

Like I say I am trying to talk her out of it since they work fine as they are and have done so for the last 60 years.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:43 PM   #9
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Is painting over receptacles code????


At 91 years old, I would do whatever she asked me to do, whether she needed it or not. If you are up to purchasing the new recept's and plates and have the time, I say go for it. Just you being there doing the job will make her day. It makes me sad to hear she wants to die. But she is entitled to feel any way she wants. She is fortunate to have you as a neighbor and friend.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:10 PM   #10
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Is painting over receptacles code????


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At 91 years old, I would do whatever she asked me to do, whether she needed it or not. If you are up to purchasing the new recept's and plates and have the time, I say go for it. Just you being there doing the job will make her day. It makes me sad to hear she wants to die. But she is entitled to feel any way she wants. She is fortunate to have you as a neighbor and friend.
She is very stubborn and will get here way if I can't talk her out of it. And I will foot the bill for supplies and do this for her. Unless I can talk her out of it.

We take care of most of the elderly in the neighborhood and I mow 6 lawns in the summer. I start at one end of the block and just start mowing. Many years ago I made the mistake of fertilizing their lawns and now I have to mow them more often...

Most live alone as their spouses have died and they are all alone except for me, my wife and occasional visitors.

I just wanted to get some ammo from the experts so that I can look her in the eye and tell her that is not an issue to have painted receptacles. So far it looks like that is the general opinion.

Her wiring is old and I am afraid that if I start messing with it I will create a problem and end up having to fix that.

I might just scrape off the paint. It seems to come off pretty easy but takes about 15 minutes per outlet.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:57 PM   #11
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Is painting over receptacles code????


How old is the wiring?

This makes me sad, my grandmother died just a few months ago. She was just a little older than your neighbor.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:02 PM   #12
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Is painting over receptacles code????


How many outlets are we talking...I'll send some new ones your way? Sorry I can't run over to help install them.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:03 PM   #13
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How old is the wiring?

This makes me sad, my grandmother died just a few months ago. She was just a little older than your neighbor.
The house was built in 1940 but wiring upgraded with a breaker panel in the 60's. Most of it is romex but she doesn't have enough circuits and the ones she does have are only 15 amps. She is constantly throwing breakers and we have told her not to go downstairs to reset them. We are afraid she will fall and break a hip which will be the end of her independence.

She calls me and I come over and reset the breaker.

We expert her to die any day since she has failure to thrive. Hopefully she will die in her home and not have to be shipped off to a nursing home. She doesn't want to leave her cats.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:11 PM   #14
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How many outlets are we talking...I'll send some new ones your way? Sorry I can't run over to help install them.
There are 11 that she can see. Since this is a visual thing and not a functional thing I was not going to get the ones that she can't see.

Appreciate the offer RippySkippy but I have boxes of receptacles that are just sitting around. I bought a ton of electrical and plumbing when a local mom and pop store shut down.

She called me this morning and wondered if I was going to do anything about these. I told her that I was doing the research and that it appears that they will be just fine with the paint on them.

"Whatever you think honey. You know what is best." She always calls me honey.

I think she is warming up to the idea of leaving them alone. I don't like working in her house since she keeps it at 90 most of the time. I sweat all the time and it is not very comfortable. She only weights 80 pounds and is constantly cold.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:18 PM   #15
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Is painting over receptacles code????


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There are 11 that she can see. Since this is a visual thing and not a functional thing I was not going to get the ones that she can't see.

Appreciate the offer RippySkippy but I have boxes of receptacles that are just sitting around. I bought a ton of electrical and plumbing when a local mom and pop store shut down.

She called me this morning and wondered if I was going to do anything about these. I told her that I was doing the research and that it appears that they will be just fine with the paint on them.

"Whatever you think honey. You know what is best." She always calls me honey.

I think she is warming up to the idea of leaving them alone. I don't like working in her house since she keeps it at 90 most of the time. I sweat all the time and it is not very comfortable. She only weights 80 pounds and is constantly cold.

What is she loading on those circuits that are blowing breakers?

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