As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.

All references are based on the 2005 NEC.

Abused and Neglected

Craig Smith, owner of SmittyCo Electrical in Hot Springs, Ariz., ran across this receptacle in a public restroom. “There was power on the receptacle, but the test button didn't work — and the reset button was missing,” Smith says.

Damaged equipment is often found in public restrooms. This device was probably installed to replace one that was in the same condition. However, the lack of maintenance may not be the reason for this condition. Many times, these devices are broken or damaged by vandals.

As per 110.12(C) Integrity of Electrical Equipment and Connections, “Internal parts of electrical equipment, including busbars, wiring terminals, insulators, and other surfaces, shall not be damaged or contaminated by foreign materials such as paint, plaster, cleaners, abrasives, or corrosive residues. There shall be no damaged parts that may adversely affect safe operation or mechanical strength of the equipment, such as parts that are broken, bent, cut, or deteriorated by corrosion, chemical action, or overheating.”

What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas

This handhole enclosure sits on the property of a big name hotel in Las Vegas. This arrangement could easily result in an electric shock accident, loss of equipment, or a fire. The open and exposed wiring and improper connections to and from each enclosure is a clear violation of the Code. My guess is the work was most likely done by an unqualified person.

As per 314.30(B), “Underground raceways and cable assemblies entering a handhole enclosure shall extend into the enclosure, but they shall not be required to be mechanically connected to the enclosure.”

The Code defines a handheld enclosure as, “An enclosure identified for use in underground systems, provided with an open or closed bottom, and sized to allow personnel to reach into, but not enter, for the purpose of installing, operating, or maintaining equipment or wiring or both.” In this instance, you can see that the enclosure is being used in a manner that it was not designed to be used.

The requirements of 314.30 state, “Handhole enclosures shall be designed and installed to withstand all loads likely to be imposed. FPN: See ANSI/SCTE 77-2002, Specification for Underground Enclosure Integrity, for additional information on deliberate and nondeliberate traffic loading that can be expected to bear on underground enclosures.”

Found a Code violation? E-mail your photos to Joe Tedesco at