Tamper-Resistant (TR) Outlets

Green Outlet Solid State Home Inspections

When it comes to building codes, most code changes that get made by authorities have very little impact on our lives. They usually deal with necessary but mundane issues like the dimeter of a buried wire or span of an engineered joist. Occasionally though, a change comes into place that will impact our lives everyday and that has happened this decade with Tamper-Resistant (TR) power outlets.

What is a Tamper-Resistant (TR) Power Outlet?

TR Outlet Close Up

Note the "TR" on the face of the plug

A tamper-resistant (TR) outlet, or receptacle, is a modification to standard electrical plugs which helps prevent accidental insertions into the electric outlet. It accomplishes this by using mechanical shutters which only open when both left and right openings in the outlet are simultaneously in use. The presumption of the outlet design is correct power cords will correctly insert while accidental insertions into one side of the plug will be resisted.

TR plugs are most commonly found in new home construction but can be affordably retrofit into existing homes. They are available in similar styles and designs of previous plugs and are often only distinguishable by the words 'tamper-resistant' or a TR on the plug.

Why Have Tamper-Resistant (TR) Power Outlets Become Required?

Every year in North America, tens of thousands of children stick paperclips, pens, and other objects into electrical outlets and in hundreds of these cases children will die from their injuries. Removable plastic caps are a nuisance for users (meaning they don't get replaced properly) and they themselves are a choke hazard to small children. There are other exterior child resistant covers but children quickly learn to defeat these devices by watching their parents use them. 

By requiring TR outlets in all new construction, electrical authorities aim to reduce child injuries and deaths in the long term. Better parenting alone cannot prevent a child in a split moment from electrocution and even homes that don't normally have children will benefit for increased child safety when they are occasional guests.

Do Tamper-Resistant (TR) Outlets Work Just Like Regular Outlets?

TR outlets do take some getting used to as plugs need to be inserted perfectly in order for the shutters to open correctly. This has created some frustration for home owners who are used to power outlets accepting power cables more easily. As Home Inspectors, we are used to testing dozens of outlets in every home inspection and TR outlets can be frustrating to test as our testers need to be installed precisely.

Final Thoughts

Today TR outlets improve electrical safety in the home which we believe is always a good thing, especially when it comes to protecting children. In time, we anticipate TR outlets will improve in design and operation making them less frustrating for home owners. If you are looking at buying any new home, always have your home inspected by a professional home inspector who can help you identify your homes latest safety features keeping your home safe and solid.

By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.