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I just moved into a new apartment with these weird receptacles that make it very difficult to plug anything in. Is there a trick to these? Or is it normal for it to be extremely difficult to plug into them?

  • What's with the two holes in the middle, on both sides of the test & reset buttons? Foreign plug adapter? With no guards to prevent things being stuck inside?
    – Xen2050
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:33
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    @Xen2050 the two holes are indicators that show red when the GFCI is tripped. Feb 18, 2019 at 9:35
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    Bet you guys wish you lived in the UK now. :) We've had something like this since 1947, as part of British standardisation on electrical safety. We have an earth pin as standard on most electrical equipment, and on our sockets it's the earth pin which opens the tamper-resistant shutters. The earth pin is longer than the live/neutral pins, so the live/neutral pins never hit the shutters. Double-screened equipment which doesn't need an earth has a "dummy" plastic pin on the plug to open the shutters.
    – Graham
    Feb 18, 2019 at 15:57
  • Building on @TomCarpenter answer, the two "holes" are actually LEDs to show the state of the GFI. Feb 19, 2019 at 14:11
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    @William-Rem Yes, earthing is an afterthought in US wiring. It's perhaps not as essential for 115V compared to 230V. The US approach to mains is that it's painful but not fatal, whereas in the UK it's possible to kill yourself with mains voltage. (Although harder to do so - I've had a number of shocks, and I'm still ticking.)
    – Graham
    Feb 19, 2019 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


They are tamper resistant, as indicated by the letters "TR" stamped between the holes. The secret is to insert the plug squarely into the receptacle. The two little doors inside have to be pushed at the same time by the prongs of the plug.

  • 1
    Right. My experience that extra force is not necessary or helpful. When you get the pressure on both doors, they open easily. Learning how to get the probes of my multi-tester through taught me how it works.
    – JimmyJames
    Feb 18, 2019 at 16:49
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    I'll add that there appear to be different quality levels of these as well; I've been replacing builder TR outlets with the ones Home Depot calls "Best", and the more expensive (and I assume higher quality/better built) outlets are much more pleasant to use. Feb 18, 2019 at 19:19
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    @KevinMcKenzie Indeed; replaced a bunch of receptacles in my old house with Cooper TR receptacles, and never had a problem plugging anything in. They were the $1 a pop ones from the big box stores. Quality varies quite a bit across manufacturers on these.
    – mmathis
    Feb 18, 2019 at 19:33
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    We often also call these "child proof" outlets. Feb 19, 2019 at 14:08
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    @ReedShilts I've never used one, am I right in thinking that like with pill bottles they're actually more difficult for adults to use than kids? Feb 19, 2019 at 16:06

Well, you are the owner of a newer type of tamper resistant outlet. It's great to have a safe home, but I have been asked to remove these, as in other newer code required devices that cause problems, but they are code now, so only the home owner can do this.

Try wiggling the plug back and forth to get these pieces of crap to open.

In my personal opinion if the circuit is GFCI protected these are absolute waste.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Michael Karas
    Feb 18, 2019 at 17:55

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