Electrical Outlets Upside Down? Code?

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A friend of mine asked me today why the electrical outlets in my house were "upside down". They are positioned with the ground pin hole at the top and the two slots of the outlet on the bottom. I agree that, to me, they "look" like they are upside down, and I think they would "look" better with the ground pin hole on the bottom. But, my belief is that the National Electrical Code (NEC) is silent on this question and that there is no right or wrong orientation for electrical outlets.
My friend said that he has had code enforcement officials tell him that electrical outlets with the ground pin hole on top were "upside down" and that they needed to be reversed to be with the ground pin on the bottom to pass the electrical inspection.
Is there anything in the NEC that says that one way is "upside down" and the other way is the "correct" orientation?
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On 9/28/2016 9:18 PM, TomR wrote:

This was discussed recently. Some inspectors want the pin up. The reason is that in an office a paper clip fell and hit the prongs of a plug that was not pushed in fully. Pin up would not let it short. IIRC, national code does not mention it.
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On Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 8:57:58 PM UTC-5, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I've seen a short-circuit twice from metal getting behind the plug. One *wa s* caused by it being "prong up", a hospital bed was *raised* and came betw een the wall and 2 prongs. The other was a pull chain that was too long and hitting the hot wire. In the 2nd case up or down would have made no differ ence. I can see why there is no code.
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On Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 7:02:25 AM UTC-5, bob_villa wrote:


was* caused by it being "prong up", a hospital bed was *raised* and came be tween the wall and 2 prongs. The other was a pull chain that was too long a nd hitting the hot wire. In the 2nd case up or down would have made no diff erence.

...if I wasn't clear on this, "prong up" meant "ground prong up".
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I don't know about nationally but I know in the state of MA there's no spec. It can be either way. State code is what you should be concerned with.
| Is there anything in the NEC that says that one way is "upside down" and the | other way is the "correct" orientation? |
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Short answer, No. There is no rule about how they are mounted and there is even a school of thought that ground up is better. Something falling between the plug and the wall would hit the ground.
Typically when a receptacle is different than the rest, it is switched.
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On Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:21:29 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I think they look stupid when they are upside down (ground on top). I put them with ground on bottom because thats what I'm used to and what looks best. I dont make a habit of dropping paper clips on plugs, and actually if a metal object was to fall on a loose plug, it could contact the ground as well as the hot terminal too (with the ground on top).
Any inspector who wont pass someone's wiring because of the mounting direction of outlets is an idiot. I'd like to see that one taken in front of a board of electricians. It's not code, so it cant be enforced either way.
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I agree, but I suppose that's due to the way we recognize faces in humans and most animals. We are accustomed to seeing two eyes on top and a mouth below. So we tend to see faces even in inanimate objects. When the ground is placed on top, it just instinctively looks "wrong". At least that's my theory...
Does that cloud look like an electrical outlet? :)

Even if you had an outlet behind a desk and knocked a paper clip off the back, the odds of it landing in the area of the plug is unlikely. Then it would have to slide down the wall in such a way that it fits between the plug and the outlet. Sure, there's an EXTREMELY remote chance it could happen, but the bigger issue is the plug not being plugged in all the way. Either the outlet needs to be replaced, or the cord needs to be relocated so it isn't being pulled out.
Years ago I had some flat plug cords with a tab you could screw to the center outlet screw to secure it in place. That would solve the problem, but I can't say I've seen cords like that in recent years.
If someone was really worried about it, you could mount the outlet sideways with the ground and neutral facing up. Or better yet, put a stop on the back of the desk to prevent things from getting knocked off the back in the first place.
Or, you could install those locking outlets where you have to insert the plug and twist it to lock the plug in place.
We have outlets in our kitchen that are mounted sideways on a half height peninsula wall where there's not enough space to mount them vertically.

Perhaps, but it's not something I would argue about. If the local inspector wants them upside down, so be it. I just want to get my work approved with as little drama as possible. If it really bothers you, you can flip them over after the work is inspected. :)
Anthony Watson www.watsondiy.com www.mountainsoftware.com
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On Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 11:06:35 AM UTC-4, HerHusband wrote:

In addition, if they are all mounted "ground up" that risque cartoon would be obsolete.
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On 09/29/2016 10:14 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:
[snip]

People who like that kind of thing will always find something.
OT: Apparently, green is now a Halloween color. If you want to put out green lights, you can use Christmas ones.
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On Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 2:48:41 PM UTC-4, notX wrote:

I'm pretty sure that Jesus would frown upon using Christmas lights on Halloween. Just sayin'
(I decorate for Christmas because I decorate for Halloween. Better safe than sorry.)
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DerbyDad03 was thinking very hard :

Is ham dinner still okay?
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HerHusband was thinking very hard :
and quoted someone without attribution.

and then added

LOL
As an aside, one of the purported reasons I read for the ground-up orientation was that children see a face and try to feed it a nice meal of paperclips. I'm not entirely convinced of that myself, but there it is. Two other reasons which made sense were that pictures mounted on walls with metal wires, and the metal escutcheons on the receptacles themselves are the perceived hazards.
Apparently none of those were compelling enough for NEC to jump on board.
[...]
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Uncle Monster expressed precisely :

One person's metallic receptacle escutcheon is another's metal outlet cover. They're both screwed if it is a shock hazard when becoming unscrewed.
Bottom line, there is no NEC code and no proof yet of any local code mandating either orientation, and evidence of both can be found in the wild for plugs and receptacles. I suspect it is an inspector's prerogative to mess with installation people by saying "It's code".
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Uncle Monster wrote :

What about the mens rooms, do they have to have prongs sticking out of the walls so that they feel comfortable?
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Sheesh, what's with all the loose screws and plugs falling out of outlets? :)
I can't recall EVER seeing a loose cover plate screw. Assuming they were tightened when installed, why would the screw work loose? The screw would not only have to loosen up, but it would have to back out a half inch for the cover plate to fall off. Even if that were to happen, a plastic cover plate would solve that problem.
- Use a quality outlet with a plastic cover plate. - Don't use the back-stab connectors. - Make sure the plug is fully inserted into the outlet. - Position the cord where it won't get snagged to pull the plug out. - Eliminate situations where things could fall on the outlet. - Use a protective cover if the risk cannot be avoided.
Orient the outlet however the inspector wants it, or what works best for your situation or personal preference.
Anthony Watson www.watsondiy.com www.mountainsoftware.com
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On Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 11:06:35 AM UTC-4, HerHusband wrote:

I'd say it has more to do with the fact that almost all the ones I've seen and used everyday for decades are installed ground pin down.
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On 09/28/2016 11:44 PM, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo wrote:
[snip]

"looks stupid" and "looks best" is probably only what you're used to. If they were usually ground up, it would be different.

I don't either. That doesn't mean it can't happen. Here, I think it more likely to be a small wire (twister) than a paper clip.

More likely to trip the breaker than be a shock hazard.
[snip]
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wrote:

When I was about 5 years old, there was no ground pin on the outlets. (Neutral was the wide slot, Hot the narrow slot.)
Milk was delivered to the house. A quart milk bottle had a paper cover held on by a wire.
I knew that there was "electricity" in the outlet, and wire was an electric conductor. One morning after the milkman came, I decided to try an experiment. Fortunately I only burned my fingers.
Unfortunately I did not learn my lesson completely. I've been shocked numerous times since then. Recently I came to appreciate GFCI outlets!
Fred
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We are people of habit. When I plug in a grounded plug in the dark, I expect the ground on the bottom. I also expect light switches to go on when the switch is UP, hot water on the left faucet, and so on. I once moved into a house that had 2 side by side light switches mounted upside down. That drove me crazy, so I re-mounted them quickly.
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