It is a long going debate whether it is okay to wrap electrical tape around the outlet. Or the receptacle and switches. And it is normal for you to be confused if you should do it or not.
Hence, in this guide, I explain everything about wrapping electrical tape around the outlet.
Some like to wrap the outlets and switches and some don’t. There is no right or wrong in this. Doing it means ensuring safety. As the hot terminals and jumbled-up wires can generate a short or spark. Some do not do it as it is just extra work. Also, the tapes degrade over time and are hard to inspect.
Still confused? Well, do not worry! Because in this guide I have clarified everything in detail. Also, showed two methods on how you can wrap the tape around your outlet!
Can You Wrap Outlets And Switches With Electrical Tape?
This topic is surely a debatable one.
Whether you should wrap electrical tape around an outlet or a receptacle? Or perhaps around the electrical switch before inserting it through a Jbox. This is a big question.
The quick answer is that some people prefer doing it and some do not. And it’s not that one standpoint is right or the other one is wrong.
But there are different opinions that you may come across with.
So stick with me for a while. And I will be explaining why you need to wrap electrical tape around your outlet. Also, why are there some who simply do not like it?
I will also share my personal opinion on this topic with you.
The Reasons Why You Should Wrap Electrical Tape Around Outlet
First of all, I will go over the reasons why people tend to wrap electrical tape over the outlet. Most electricians do this. And when asked they say that It is a good common practice.
Then again, some of them also declare they do not do it as it can be really troublesome.
Reason 1: Bare Ground Wire
One reason why most people do it is that there is the presence of one bare wire. This creates a probability that the bare ground wire might touch the hot terminals on the outlet.
In your residents, you may have the terminals which are jutting out right there. And there is a chance that the groundwater can touch one of those open terminals.
You were actually supposed to screw this in by going all the way.
However, occasionally they may not be completely screwed in. It then can generate a short spark or perhaps an arc.
So, you need to wrap these up.
Reason 2: The Metal J Box
Another common reason for doing it is due to using metal boxes. Keep in mind whenever you utilize metal boxes or electrical ones and not plastic one. You need to wrap the tape around it.
During the construction of your home, or replacing an electrical outlet, this box might get smashed by something.
For example, they can accidentally hit that box and the box gets dented.
It can also cave in, then probably touch the wires of those terminals. As a result, it might produce a short or maybe spark.
Reason 3: The Outlet Is Too Small
Next reason is that the outlet or the GFCI receptacle is too small for the Jbox.
So people try to make things work by fitting them together. But everything definitely gets really cramped in there.
Because you are trying to fit this huge GFCI. And all the wires and stuff are cramped up in one space. And there are likelihoods that you might have one of those wires grazing the box.
Or perhaps touching the terminals on the outlet. This can result in an unwanted short or spark.
Reason 4: Too Many Wires
As I am talking about overcrowding, this brings up another reason. And that is too many wires in the J box.
In case you try to put 2 GFCI on some 2 gangs Jbox. Or wiring 2 single pole switches inside the box. Then you will see how incredibly close they remain together.
There will be an extremely small gap right between the 2 GFCI.
Then when you add these wires they are together again. That’s why they are getting too crowded with each other.
So, it is definitely going to create an issue if you do not wrap it.
And you are doing it mainly for safety.
Reason 5: The Wire Orientation
So as you overcrowd the Jbox and have all the wires attached to the outlets. This again brings us to one more reason to wrap outlets.
And the reason is the cleanliness of the orientation of the wires.
As the wires often do not orientate the best way and get all jumbled up. They get pushed in as well.
So, wrapping the outlet with electrical tape really helps in this case.
Reason 6: Energised Circuit
Another reason is you work on the outlets and switches which are energized.
Working on energized electrical switches or outlets takes place due to the power going inside J boxes. It comes from various sources provided you may exterminate the power from your main breaker.
However, there are other breakers as well that are sustaining on the same Jbox.
There are circumstances when you can’t turn the power off from that circuit breaker. Sometimes it’s really difficult to trace where the power is coming from.
So, that’s why wrapping a tape around switches or outlets is very crucial.
Reason 7: Child Safety
Child safety is another big reason why you should wrap them around. I myself have a 2-year-old son, who’s always touching everything.
So, in case the cover plate on the electrical outlet comes in loose. Kids may pry it off and unknowingly touch one of the terminals.
This may cause them to suffer an electric shock. Hence, double-check the plates in case it is loose.
Also, perhaps it can happen when painting your wall. As it is normal to take the cover plate off of the switches as well as receptacles.
And then, for example, you forgot to put one of the things back.
What happens is you allow the paint to dry in that area before putting the plate on. And your kid gets in there and possibly touches it.
So, these were my reasons for why people wrap up their electrical outlets and switches.
Reasons Why People Don’t Wrap Electrical Tape Around Outlets
Now I will go over the reasons why some choose not to tape those outlets. Have a look!
Reason 1: Difficult to Inspect
Along with being a ton of extra work, wrapping tape around your outlet makes inspection difficult.
That is why some inspectors recommend it and some do not. That is another debate.
But this actually relies on where you are located and the local codes.
In some places the inspectors just won’t approve it. Because, after popping off the cover plate, they can’t actually examine the terminals.
As they remain wrapped up so inspectors do not recognize what is going on inside.
Reason 2: Electrical Tape Degradation Over Time
Often people, when they wrap the tape around the switch or outlet, do it very tightly.
And this is possible because these electrical tapes tend to be very stretchy. When wrapping, people tend to stretch it to a certain extent.
What happens then is it pulls out over time. It starts to unravel. So then you are gonna have one burnable in there. And it will lay there flapping. And being burnable, they might catch fire at any moment.
Also, it will leave residues all over the terminal. And that is another reason.
How to Tape An Outlet
Here I will teach you 2 different methods on how to wrap an outlet.
They are both quite easy. At least easier than fixing a crack in a wall.
Method 1: The Double Wrap
This method is the first one I will explain to you. Very simple when you follow all the instructions properly.
Step 1: Tighten Your Terminals
First of all, I will take a simple, commercial grade outlet. It is beefy looking and has a back wire.
So to start, you might have a residential with screws. In that case, make sure that you tighten each one of those terminals very well.
Step 2: Gently Wrap The Tape Around
Then grab the Scotch. I recommend using super 33+ in this case.
Just take your electrical tapes and simply wrap the terminals. But keep in mind not to stretch the tape while doing it.
Do it with as much minimal stretch as possible. Take it easy and you will see there are barely any stress marks.
Step 3: Complete The Process
There will also be two screws in your way while wrapping. Do not wrap the tape around these. You can just take them out of the way or simply take them off.
You need two wraps and then cut the tape off. And you are good.
But wait! You are not done. You need to leave a buddy tab over the edge where you cut off the tape.
Method 2: Apply Two Separate Wraps
This method is quite the same as the previous one except you’re wrapping two separate wraps.
So, simply wrap it with the tape going over once. Again, do not apply much stress. And cut it off. Leave a little buddy tab. That is one wrap.
Then, you need to wrap it again.
What happens when you do this is even if one unravels over time, the other one does not. As the wraps are not in the same roll.
So, it is just making sure that if one of these fails, the other one is there to save the day:
Why do some people don’t wrap their receptacles?
People skip wrapping receptacles due to the extra work. As it is mostly not written in guidelines whether to do or not to do it. Another reason can be that the tape degrades over time. And it will leave unwanted residues on the outlet.
Why should I wrap my outlet with tape?
The quick answer is it ensures safety. The terminal remains hot most of the time and vulnerable to generating a spark or short. It might lead to an accident. For that it is better to wrap it as a precaution.
Do jumbled-up wires create a spark?
Yes, it happens when you don’t wrap electrical tape around the residential area. The wires inside suffer the lack of orientation and get jumbled up. Which can sometimes steer to a short or spark.
Hope I have resolved your queries about wrapping electrical tape around the outlet.
Now you know the answer. And if you ask, my recommendation is wrapping it up. Just to maintain the safety of your loved ones.
However, if you decide on doing, go through the two techniques provided here, again. Follow those steps carefully and you are good.
That is all about now! Have an awesome day!