Starting in 2008, the National Electrical Code®(NEC®) required new and renovated dwellings to have tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles. These receptacles have spring-loaded shutters that close off the contact openings, or slots, of the receptacles. Although the NEC has required TR receptacles since 2008 this does not always mean that all homes built after that year will have them. It all depends on the local adoption of the code by your city, township or municipality. As a home inspector I see new homes with out TR receptacles because many areas have chosen to not adopt this section or have modified the code. This type of receptacles does cost more and builders have been upset about being required to put them in their homes and this could be the reason that some areas are not requiring them.
When a plug is inserted into the receptacle, both springs are compressed and the shutters then open, allowing for the metal prongs to make contact to create an electrical circuit. Because both springs must be compressed at the same time, the shutters do not open when a child attempts to insert an object into only one contact opening, and there is no contact with electricity. Many feel that tamper- resistant receptacles are an important next step to making the home a safer place for children.
If you do have TR receptacles you will notice that it can be difficult to insert the blades of a plug into the receptacle at first. As that receptacle is used more it will become easier to insert plugs as the TR device loosens with use.
I recall my mother telling the story about when I was around 5 years old and I stuck a car key into an outlet. She said I only did it once! Oh, and my baby crib was painted with lead based paint too!
Scott Patterson has been a professional home inspector since 1995 and works out of the Greater Nashville TN area. You can contact him at his office 615-302-1113 or on his cell at 615-870-4162 via text or voice.