Electrical Tape & Receptacles

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  #1  
Old 12-15-06, 06:50 AM
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Electrical Tape & Receptacles

Why do some people wrap receptacles in electrical tape while others don't? Is the tape just used as protection against someone sticking a knife through the box cover?


Also: what are electrical tape's resistance and fire protection? If I wrapped 2 120V wires with electrical tape and they touched, what would happen?
 
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Old 12-15-06, 07:02 AM
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Some people put electrical tape over the screw terminals of receptacles and switches tp protect from an accidental short. With larger (wider) devices the screw terminals are closer to the sides of the box.

A short to a metal box may or may not be noticed. A short of a hot wire to a grounded metal box will cause the breaker to trip (or fuse to blow), which will be noticed, but a short of the neutral to a metal box or a short of a hot wire to an ungrounded box will not be noticed and may create a shock hazard.

Another concern is the bare ground wires shorting to a screw. While the ground wires should be pushed to the back of the box, they sometimes get in the way. especially with shallow boxes or numerous wires.

Normal residential 120 volt lines will not short if wrapped in electrical tape. However, electrical tape is not allowed as the sole means of connecting and protecting a splice.
 
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Old 12-15-06, 09:40 AM
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> Why do some people wrap receptacles in electrical tape while others don't?

Many people believe it's a safety precaution to cover up the exposed screw terminals of receptacles and switches with tape. It's somewhat of a religious issue amongst electricians: some always tape, some never tape. With plastic boxes, it makes little difference as the the box is non-conductive so nothing shorts out if the receptacle bumps the edge of the box. From a code point of view, tape is neither required nor prohibited. Same story goes for taping wirenuts.

> electrical tape's resistance and fire protection?

Depends on whether you get the $3/roll 3M tape, the 6 rolls for $1 store brand, or some heavy duty rubber tape. You get what you pay for.

> If I wrapped 2 120V wires with electrical tape and they touched,
> what would happen?

Probably nothing, but I wouldn't count on it. Moreover the adhesive on electrical tape degrades and will come loose or dry and crack off. Tape should not be trusted as the sole means of insulating splices.
 
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Old 12-15-06, 03:04 PM
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I once read some inspectors see tape and wonder what your hiding. They may red flag an inspection because of it. Can't say if it is true.
 
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