Q: Is an outlet above the HVAC air return considered within the environmental air space?
We need to move the HVAC air return in one of our rooms, and there is an existing electrical outlet in the most convenient spot. Rather than remove the electrical outlet, I was thinking about just moving it up a foot or so to make room for the new air return grill, as shown here:
My understanding based on NEC is that the space between the studs through which the air will be flowing from the grill to the furnace is covered by 300.22(C) "Other Space Used for Environmental Air". What I can't figure out is whether the same rules apply if the outlet is located above the HVAC air return. Theoretically, the air flow would be downward from the grill, so it would not flow past the outlet; however, there is no barrier within the space between the studs to separate the outlet from the HVAC air flow.
Clarifying Edit: The return air is not enclosed in a duct; this is an old (1920s) house, and it just uses the stud bays for the air return.