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Whats Wrong Here?


How well do you know the Code? Think you can spot violations the original installer either ignored or couldn't identify? Here's your chance to moonlight as an electrical inspector and second-guess someone else's work from the safety of your living room or office. Brian, who has a knack for finding shoddy electrical work, did the dirty work and found this mess. Now it's your turn to identify the violation.

Find the Answer

This photo shows a violation of the requirements outlined in 210.52(C)(5), Exception to (5). The basic rule generally requires the receptacle outlets in dwelling unit kitchens to be mounted no more than 20 in. above the countertop. However, for island and peninsulas, where there is no wall space or cabinet in which to mount the receptacle outlet in accordance with the basic rule, the exception permits locating the outlet below the countertop — with certain limitations.

The Exception reads as follows: "To comply with the conditions specified in (1) or (2), receptacle outlets shall be permitted to be mounted not more than 300 mm (12 in.) below the countertop. Receptacles mounted below a countertop in accordance with this exception shall not be located where the countertop extends more than 150 mm (6 in.) beyond its support base." The two conditions specified in (1) and (2) of this exception are: "Construction for the physically impaired" and "on island and peninsula countertops where the countertop is flat across its entire surface (no back splashes, dividers, etc.) — and there are no means to mount a receptacle within 500 mm (20 in.) above the countertop, such as an overhead cabinet."

In this case, there is no place to mount the receptacle above the countertop, so mounting a receptacle outlet below the countertop would be permitted, provided the countertop does not extend more than 6 in. beyond its support base. Because the countertop does, in fact, extend more than 6 in. from the edge of the supporting structure, such an installation would be considered a violation. The only acceptable location for the required receptacle outlet would be on top of the counter. As given in 406.4(E), any such receptacle is prohibited from being mounted in the "face up" position. So, the only means available to satisfy this rule is to install a floor-type receptacle outlet box typically used in commercial occupancies.

While such an approach would serve to satisfy the requirement here, the reality is homeowners are not very receptive to installing a floor box on their countertops — especially when they just spent several thousand dollars on the granite countertop!

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