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#168668 - 09/12/07 09:10 AM Horizontal receptacles and Chicago?
EV607797 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/25/06
Posts: 756
Loc: Fredericksburg, VA, USA
I've asked this question many times over the years, but have never really gotten a definitive answer. I watch a lot of home improvement and real estate shows. In every instance where the show is set in the Chicago area, the receptacles are always mounted horizontally. Personally, I think that this looks pretty awkward, especially in kitchens where the switches are mounted vertically next to them along counters.

Also, all wiring is done in EMT, even in residential construction. The place can be 100% wood framing and full of PVC plumbing, yet the electrical work is always done in EMT. I would imagine that this requirement causes the electrical costs to skyrocket in a competitive construction market. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of EMT installations, but isn't this quite a bit of overkill?

My guess for the horizontal receptacles is due to the fact that EMT is run horizontally between outlets and by placing the mud ring sideways, it makes it easier to pull the wire in. Again, that's just my guess.

Does anyone know anything about this? Is this just "local practice" or is there really some awkward local code that requires EMT in residences? If so, why?

I noticed last night on a show that took place in Hawaii that the same thing applied. All receptacles were mounted horizontally. Granted, all three condos were in high-rises, so I suppose that this could have been due to the fact that the place was wired with EMT as well. At the same time, I've been in hundreds of high-rise buildings in other parts of the country, both residential and commercial, and have never seen installations such as these required.

Perhaps my most perplexing question is how home improvement stores handle the Chicago requirements. Is it possible to go to a Home Depot in Chicago and buy a roll of 12/2 Romex and a case of plastic boxes? Have the forces that mandate 100% EMT been able to restrict the sale of non-approved wiring materials? Will the Union people stake out the joint and beat up anyone who comes out the door with Romex? I just can't see a Harry Homeowner running EMT or Greenfield to install a ceiling fan in a bedroom, so with that being said, do they even try to do their own work?

Sorry for all of the questions, but this stuff just makes no sense to me after thirty+ years in the business.
_________________________
---Ed---

"But the guy at Home Depot said it would work."

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Building Codes & Related References
#168671 - 09/12/07 10:49 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: EV607797]
ghost307 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 877
Loc: Chicago Illinois USA
I don't know the rationale behind the receptacle orientation, but I'm sure that there's a story behind it.
At least we get to avoid the "ground up vs. ground down" debates here in the Windy City.
;\)

With regards to the EMT, depending on who you talk to, it's either because an overload in conduit doesn't present the same fire hazard as a length of Romex while its jacket is melting down as the result of an overload (the circuit breaker tripping isn't part of that story) or because it keeps unqualified people from doing their own electrical work (badly) and creating a fire hazard.

You also won't find a lot of PVC plumbing in Chicago, until very recently this was a cast-iron town that required poured lead and oakum joints for all of the main drains.

As to buying Romex at the big box stores, even when it was illegal to use in the whole County, they still carried it. One Department Manager told me that Corporate made those decisions without his input. He never sold a single foot of it amd had to explain his "poor performance" every month.
Romex is now recognized in Chicago, but you're not going to like the installation limitations.

"18-27-336.4. Uses Permitted.
Listed Type NM and NMC cable with listed fittings shall be permitted to be used only for limited extensions to knob-and-tube lighting or appliance branch-circuits in existing wood frame residential occupancies not exceeding three stories in height, but not where subject to mechanical injury as in new or remodeled building construction.
Type NM and NMC cable shall be permitted only in dry locations where concealed, in walls and floors of these occupancies."

Told 'ya you wouldn't like it...
_________________________
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#168707 - 09/13/07 06:06 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: ghost307]
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
 Originally Posted By: ghost307
At least we get to avoid the "ground up vs. ground down" debates here in the Windy City.


Yeah, but then you get into "neutral up vs. hot up," a.k.a. "ground left vs. ground right." ;\)

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#168708 - 09/13/07 06:15 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: pauluk]
32VAC Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/04
Posts: 203
Loc: Alice Springs, NT, Australia
Speaking of the vertical/horizontal outlet debate, I notice that New Zealand tends to use more vertical outlets in installations than you would find in Australia.

Its rare to find a vertical outlet in Australia (the cost is the main factor, a standard single outlet is around $7 where a vertical single outlet is close on $12 even though its got the same mechanism fitted)

Any reason why the Kiwis have gone with vertical outlets rather than horizontal ones? What do other South Pacific nations use more of-horizontal or vertical?


Edited by 32VAC (09/13/07 06:18 AM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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#168712 - 09/13/07 06:53 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: 32VAC]
sabrown Offline
Member

Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 297
Loc: Ogden, Utah, USA
From my experience in the Philipines 81-83, Visiyan Islands, lighting was the only thing I remember being served with electricity and in some areas as often as 2 hours a week (other places almost 100 percent of the time). I can not recall any receptacles though I know of homes which had TV's so they had to exist. If they had been horizontal it likely would have stuck with me as beeing odd. The light switches were all vertical (even the pull chains were vertical still rather than hanging horizontally as one would expect being that close to the equator and about to fall off the face of the earth).

Shane

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#168713 - 09/13/07 07:11 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: EV607797]
allphase Offline
Member

Registered: 09/05/07
Posts: 14
Loc: Chicago il.
Well the chicago code is very clear on emt for all res. work. We have done it in emt for as long as i have known.The countys and towns around chicago all do emt also.
the farther you get away from chicago the more you see rope.
The unions are very strong in this area and some of the teacher at the school right the code book.

I like the fact we do ever thing in emt . you learn how to bend pipe very early and fast in class. It is easyer to make changes and add a circuit. I've got over 22 years in to the trade, and still bend pipe every day.

As for the horizontal receptacles I was always told that we do them that way becase when thay started to change from gas lights in buildings it was less damage to the walls from existing controls in the kitchens and bathrooms for the gas lights.

Oh one more thing hot is always on the top .
When you go to take out the recp. you role it down and the hot can not hit the box and go to ground.


Larry

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#168715 - 09/13/07 08:25 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: allphase]
Jps1006 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 609
Loc: Northern IL
We always put the receptacles sideways because that's the way I was first shown and that's the way everyone else in the area is doing it. Same as Larry, hot on top. Just like you never turn your back on a wild animal, you always keep the most dangerous part in full view (of course we are supposed to working on this stuff dead).

Folklore is that the Chicago Fire has to do with the strict requirements on EMT. I think it has more to do with union influence in that it will guarantee more labor. I don't mind it though. When we did McMansion custom homes, we piped and pulled a 3500-4500 ft house 3 guys 5-7 days. and then another 2 days for trim. It makes it nice to do service and remodeling work in the area though, you usually have more options.

It used to bother me that HD sold NM and AC, but the do. I think out here in the suburbs they sell more of it to the handymen or lowballers doing unpermitted work.

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#168761 - 09/14/07 05:03 AM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: Jps1006]
ghost307 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 877
Loc: Chicago Illinois USA
Larry, thanks for the background on the neutral position.

I noticed that the preferred orientation here for horizontal receptacles was with the ground to the right...which seemed somewhat arbitrary.

Since most of the "Chicago-isms" in our Code had some logic behind them (however misguided or obscure), I now know where that practice comes from...and it makes sense to me now.
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Ghost307

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#168832 - 09/17/07 03:20 PM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: ghost307]
DougW Offline
Member

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
I'd say about 95% of the new resi construction I've worked on has had "sideways" receptacles.

And from Chicago all the way to the state line - all these towns are piped... you might get an allowance for flex / MC, but it's usually limited to fished installs or a certain length exiting a cavity before you have to transition to pipe.

And it's always amusing to see folks (generally speaking, English is their 2nd language) who go to Home Despot, but NM, and then head east, back into Gurnee or Waukegan - both hard core pipe towns.

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#169623 - 10/09/07 11:27 PM Re: Horizontal receptacles and Chicago? [Re: 32VAC]
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8530
Loc: SI,New Zealand
 Originally Posted By: 32VAC
Speaking of the vertical/horizontal outlet debate, I notice that New Zealand tends to use more vertical outlets in installations than you would find in Australia.

Its rare to find a vertical outlet in Australia (the cost is the main factor, a standard single outlet is around $7 where a vertical single outlet is close on $12 even though its got the same mechanism fitted)

Any reason why the Kiwis have gone with vertical outlets rather than horizontal ones? What do other South Pacific nations use more of-horizontal or vertical?

32VAC,
Both are available here, but vertical sockets tend to be more popular because it's easier to screw (or nail) a flush-box to studs rather than have dwangs installed for sockets close to the floor.
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