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Does code prohibit using salvaged materials in new electrical work? Can wire, receptacles, switches, wirenuts, boxes, connectors, etc... be reused?

  • I rolled back your latest edit, as the question is still valuable for other users who may come across it in the future. – mmathis Jun 1 '18 at 18:20
  • but it is a duplicate, others have asked simlar questions, and the answers also answer this question, but I don't mind either way – April Jun 1 '18 at 18:30
  • Even in cases where it is permissible, consider what the real net value is. A lot of electrical components are dirt cheap to buy new. They don't live forever, it may be hard to determine their condition or remaining life, and anything that's been exposed (like switches and outlets) are likely to look dingy. So you save a pittance on the work, but need to invest time to check, test, and clean the old parts. When you're done with the installation, it looks "used". And you may be back to diagnose problems or repair the work if the parts were near end-of-life. – fixer1234 Jun 1 '18 at 20:22
  • You may have misunderstood the discussion in answer to your other question. You are specifically allowed to run a single, separate 10 AWG grounding wire back to a suitable location. This wire does not have to be part of a 4-wire cable or even run in the same conduit as the energized and neutral wires of this circuit. So you are very much allowed to re-use the existing wires (for example to tap into the existing junction box to wire out to the new outlet box). diy.stackexchange.com/a/139849/69176 – Stanwood Jun 2 '18 at 3:15
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As long as the components meet current code they can be reused. For example if I replace all the switches and outlets in a home and the outlets are 3 prong and in good shape I will save them and the switches for small repair jobs. You would think after 35 years of doing this I would have truck loads but I only save the quality parts; backstab only devices usually go in the trash and I use enough for friends etc that I only have a medium box full.

Wire can also be reused but I usually will not save romex under 10 awg and then if only in like new shape. I will regularly save larger thhn/thwn wire and inspect it prior to reusing.

Even breaker panels can be reused if they meet current code but in many cases I save the older quality panels for subs in a pump house or garage because most of the time they are only 60 to 125 amp. With all the new AFCI and GFCI requirements I prefer getting larger panels for a home.

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"In good and proper working condition."

K601.4 Material, equipment and appliance reuse.
Materials, equipment, appliances and devices shall not be reused unless such elements have been reconditioned, tested and placed in good and proper working condition and approved.


K601.3 Alternative materials, methods, equipment and appliances.

The provisions of this code are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or to prohibit any method of construction not specifically prescribed by this code, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material or method of construction shall be approved where the code official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this code, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, at least the equivalent of that prescribed in this code in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety.

www2.iccsafe.org/states/Puerto_Rico/English_Codes

To the best of my knowledge, no one's code forbids the reuse of all most anything (that the manufacturer does not explicitly state 'single use only' - like flexible gas lines), provided it is in good working order. For which you have to use common sense, but ultimately it's up to your inspector's discretion.

So, that box of corroded EMT fittings from 20y ago rotting in your basement: throw them away. Non-TP receptacles; 99% of the time you can't use those anymore either. Don't reuse wire nuts without making sure there's no broken off wire in there, and that the insert isn't mangled. Used toggle switches with a weakened spring are garbage. Used wire is fine as long as it's (all together now, class :) in good working order.

  • Worst is the gumby-style wirenuts such as the horrible 3M Scotchlok; rarely mentioned is these are single-use wirenuts whose metal spring permanently deforms after one use. 3M tried too hard to fit their material science skills to a problem not in search of that. Scotchlok are replace-on-sight at my facility. I retain slightly aged EMT boxes, pipes and fittings for when I need to do new work that I need to look old because it's unpermitted. – Harper Jun 1 '18 at 23:16
  • "reconditioned, tested and placed in good and proper working condition and approved" - are these terms defined in NEC? – April Jun 2 '18 at 5:36
  • @April - Not to my knowledge, just as 'work is to be completed with sound workmanship' is left open to interpretation : "This implied covenant goes something like this: “By agreeing to perform work in a contract, a contractor promises (a) to use reasonable skill, care and diligence, (b) that the work will be performed in a workmanlike manner, and (c) that the work, when completed, will be reasonably fit for its intended use.” – CONTRACT: WHAT IS “PERFORMANCE IN A GOOD AND WORKMANLIKE MANNER”? – Mazura Jun 2 '18 at 5:58
  • If it comes down to it, defining "reasonable" will be your lawyer's prerogative, should you happen to disagree with your inspector's interpretation. – Mazura Jun 2 '18 at 6:06
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    Thanks. Does approved mean approved by the city inspector or approved some other industry authority, or ... ? – April Jun 2 '18 at 6:09
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This is a question you don't see very often.

In answer to your question. I do not know of any part of the NEC where it specifically states "you can't reuse electrical material, devices, light fixtures, or equipment".

However, that does not release you from other rules and laws. I think in terms of a contractor and if you are working under a contract, it usually requires you to use all new material. Also we really don't like being sued, when a customer is assuming he is getting new product and finds out it was used.

Now have I installed used product in the past? Absolutely, most of the time I did it under the "brother-in-law" job or certain charity work. If you think about it some equipment is obsolete and the parts are no longer available like a Zinsco breaker. There is an entire industry that buys and sells used equipment like this.

I will conclude by saying that when I did reuse material, I made sure the person I was doing work for knew about it and the material was of equal or better quality than what was being replaced, and depending on the liability I sometimes got it in writing.

Good luck

  • Yeah, for an example of equipment that is obsolete for commercial, not safety reasons, the GE TQDL21200 one would need to feed a 200A sub from a 200A+ GE main panel.... – ThreePhaseEel Jun 2 '18 at 18:25

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