Shouldn’t Do This, but…

Hi All,

I just finished moving into my new apartment. The landlord is a little touchy about certain things. For example, he was opposed to my wanting to store boxes in the basement, of all things. Today I spent the day unboxing stereo equipment. Anyhow, I have a Cruz First Maestro receptacle and I want to switch that out with the original  but I don’t have access to the fuse box in the basement. I’ve switched out receptacles with the electric on before but I hate doing it. Any advice or words of encouragement?



Plug in a couple of electric heaters into the same outlet until it trips. Then replace the receptacle and call landlord to report no power on the outlet.

I work at a hospital. Write down your post title on a piece of paper, then cross out the word “but”. That’s the answer you’re looking for.

@2psyop I've been shocked by 120V ac dozens of times over my lifetime.  I have never stood in a bathtub and tried to fish toast out of a toaster with a gold plated knife, but I've never worried about 120V.

My question is to you is, do you really see electrocution victims who have been shocked by 120V ac?

Serious question.  I'm not trying to debate here.



My suggestion is to overload the outlet and replace it when the breaker is still out.  😂

Also, put in an outlet that isn’t going to be immediately obviously different. Don’t put in a black outlet if the others are white. Don’t put a 20A outlet if the others are 15A.  If the other outlets are already TR, you'll need to do the same.

Also, one big issue with apartments is that the drywall around the outlets have deteriorated and make them loose, so figure out if you need plastic spacers or a Hubbel Flush-Fit before attempting this.

Thanks everyone. Overloading the circuit does sound like a good idea. More ways on how to do that? Yes, the outlets are both black!

Get a hair dryer and toaster oven or vacuum cleaner on the same outlet. You’ll want the right tools. Sandpaper, wire strippers, wire cutters, needle nose pliers and small and medium screwdrivers of both kinds. Square drive electrician’s is ideal, but not strictly necessary.

If your apartment has had the fuses/breakers fiddled with however you may have too high of a breaker/fuse value.  If you don't trip the breakers in 10 seconds give it up.

NEC 240 . 24 (B) says each occupant shall have ready access to all overcurrent devices supplying the occupancy 

@oldelectricalinspctor It has been a long time since I rented but I'm pretty sure I never rented where I didn't know where the electrical breaker box was.  Glad to know this is in the NEC.

@goofyfoot Considering the additional info, and the fact that you should have access to the breaker box, I think you would be wiser to talk to the landlord. And be willing to do this the right way with an electrician and permission. Too many things can go wrong that may impact your tenancy. 

@noromance I texted the landlord with that NEC citation and that didn’t go over very well. He said, ‘no one goes into the basement without me, why do you need to get into the breaker box’? At which point I made up some nonsense. I’m not living in a gentrified part of the city. There are six houses on my street and everything else around me are industrial complexes. Anyway, I’m looking at the Goal Zero 500X lithium generator and that would make the in the wall receptacle a moot point.  But speaking of the landlord, he’s regular people and when it comes to my stereo, regular people see me as eccentric.

Just tell him you need to upgrade the outlet for some sensitive electronics and you'll pay for it. If he pushes back, tell him if it didn't matter you wouldn't be asking.

And, the NEC 240 24.b is the real deal. If he won't comply, call it in to the city. It's like gravity, it not just a good idea, it's the law. 

NEC 240 . 24 (B) says each occupant shall have ready access to all overcurrent devices supplying the occupancy 


Sounds like there might be a lot of non compliant work down there.  Are you sure the building is a legal dwelling unit?  Check with your local government.

When i owned a 2 flat my renters always had access to to breaker box in case I wasn't around to reset it for them. By right's you should have access to the electrical box in case something trips, or happens so you are able to reset the breaker.. Ask him what happens if he is not around if the a/c should trip the breaker will he always be around to reset it, plus @panzrwagn is correct it is the law to have access, unless he dosen't have it up to code and dosen't want to show it to you..I am reaching here but.... contacting the city inspector to verify your rights

is not a bad idea hope this helps


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Having access to the panel, and changing electrical devices as you see fit are two different things.You have zero rights to do the latter. Contacting the electrical inspector to assert your imaginary right to do electric work in an apartment building with other tenants won't go well for you.

@panzrwagn ...that could get @goofyfoot ’invited to leave the complex’ since the landlord ( or the rep thereof...more likely) likely doesn’t want or need a new problem of a really obscure sort.....

Our OP should have expected such, and hitting the LL with a NEC technical detail just pisses them off. New tenants making very odd sort of requests will run into
this ’roadblock’ unless you’ve got absolutely prime signed and original references as to how wonderful a tenant you’ve been.

Otherwise, move on to Plan B....ignore the existing outlet, just use it. If this is one of six on the homes (older ones?) on the street in that sort of area, the odds are good the wiring could be substandard or mucked about with previously.

If you’ve never seen the ac panels before or ever, and you’re prohibited from seeing them....get used to amperage control via breakered plug strips...

...and Don't Ever play loud.....

I live in a 'live/work' situation, have recent wiring for a commercial space, and no real neighbors to speak of... and lease 2 buildings out of 6 that exist for our landlord, who is welcome to visit whenever he desires.

If that can't be after the years we've been here.....we'd have moved on...🙁


@asvjerry Yeah, when I mentioned the NEC citation the landlord became defensive. Also, from looking at the NEC website, it states that they do not determine laws but that some laws are in accordance. Different states have laws of their own. To find out for certain, I need to contact the building department for Cincinnati. The landlord recently purchased the building and did renovations. It is clean, seems structurally sound, quiet and inexpensive for the amount of space that I have. So I’m certainly not interested in moving out two weeks after I’ve moved in. Like I said previously, a Ground Zero lithium generator would be a step up and I only need to power my front end and ESL’s, as my power amp runs on two power supplies and a battery. I think the generator can be had for around $400.00.

So will you be putting the Cruz First Maestro receptacle on the Goal Zero Li generator?

@goofyfoot taking a different tact that I did earlier in the thread, I agree that the outlet matters little or none, so long as the existing outlet is in good shape and makes good contact, i.e., not loose.

I’m not familiar with the battery pack you are using but 2 things: 1. you are at the mercy of the inverter so if it doesn’t have a good inverter, you’re not doing yourself any favors. 2. if it is plugged in while you are using it, you will generally be running off a cheaper power supply that is the charger. So you’ll have to turn off the charger while you use it.


@carlsbad2 Here's a review of the charger,

@noromance If it's easy to install the Maestro in the charger, then yes, I probably will install it though I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make.

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goofyfoot:  might want to be wary of triggering unintended consequences as in the Seinfeld episode “The Mom and Pop Store.”

Kramer convinces Jerry to send his sneakers to a "mom and pop"shoe repair store, insisting that it is important to keep such stores from going out of business. Kramer takes all of his sneakers, leaving him only a pair of cowboy boots he was gifted. While at the store, Kramer's nose starts to bleed. When he lies down to stop it, he notices wires hanging out of the ceiling and advises Mom and Pop to call an electrician. Mom and Pop can't afford to bring the electrical installation up to the building code, so they close the store and disappear with all of Jerry's sneakers.

Talk about putting your goofy foot in it!

and disappear with all of Jerry's sneakers.

@rodman99999Thanks for the link but wouldn't just a pair of hospital latex gloves achieve the same purpose?

@rel Been watching ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. Anyway, I’m certain that the building inspector has been out. Still it does seem odd that I can’t access the breaker box. Either way, I don’t want to start a fight with the landlord. Do people ever think about this before posting advice?

Any chance that you are in a 2 or 3 family house and are renting a created apartment? 

That would explain a common fuse box/ breaker panel in the basement and not one in your apartment.  

Lotsa luck with this one.  Good chance these were home done renovations without permits.  


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@rar1 The houses are Victorian. Twelve foot ceilings. Possibility they are knob and tube wiring as my previous apartment was wired this way when built in 1887.

Wow.  I would double down on my bet on electrical work either done by the owner or by some neighborhood guy.  Most electricians would either pull out the knob & tube wiring or disconnect it.  Doubt there were permits, if work were done.

No reason to aggravate your landlord any further with mentions of code.  He knows what he has.  Work with what you have, use well grounded power strips, be safe.  Furman and Tripp make some nice ones.

I could go on about a 100 year old two bedroom apartment I rented out 20 years ago.  One outlet per room.  A four fuse, fuse box.  Replete with dumbwaiter.  

So everything is all plaster & lathe, as well?





It might be nice and perhaps of some comfort to know how many breakers are consigned to your 'unit' and their amperage.

One scenario we dealt with was the house we bought while in Houston.
2B-1Bth, a living room between the kit/dine with the previous outdoor 'porch' infilled to create a 2nd living room adjacent to the exist. living room that allowed for a fireplace.  Doing some reno to merge the 2 living rooms into one and connect the kitch and dine....

,,,,the entire house had a 'loop ground' for the 2 wire hot+white grnd, and No green common ground.

All 2 prong plugs, water heater next to the 100 amp fuse box...knob and tube era stuff...

That got reno'd First.  The water heater (gas) got moved to the bed/bath side of the house was next...

Adventures in Renovationland...😏

@goofyfoot -

... wouldn't just a pair of hospital latex gloves achieve the same purpose?

       How much insulation (thickness & toughness) would you prefer, between your skin and the (typically) sharp end of an energized, electrical conductor?

You might try telling your landlord that plugging your fingers in a live wall socket is part of a ritual you perform weekly, and your fingers won’t fit in the provided sockets. When they look at your dazzed and confused, you could come back with: "Just kidding. I just want my audio system to sound better. Can I change it out?"

@waytoomuchstuff I would have asked if the landlord were chilled but I’m certain he’ll object. So I could just change it out while wearing gloves and while being careful not to touch any of the wires together or use the current receptacle until I buy a generator. I really like the idea of the generator. I’m trying to determine how much wattage hours I’ll need.

@goofyfoot  I use to do maintenance at an apartment complex years ago and changing outlets was not uncommon. Most of the time I would shut the easily accessible breaker off, but every now and then I would get cocky or lazy and would change it while it was live. And I did get zapped a few of those times and it did give off a good scary sting but I was basically fine and didn't need to be nominated for a Darwin award. The copper wire from the wall should be curved already and easily slipped on to the screw of the new outlet. I would go for it with some rubber gloves and be done with it.

breaker off 

do you change tires on your car while the car is in motion? your answer lies w/in this puzzle!

@jazzguy43 I have done a live recepticle exchange without getting shocked. I replaced the positive first. White, Black and then Ground. But for whatever reason now, I’m in a current state of neurosis, always contradicting myself. Really though, if I do this, I’m fairly certain no one will know the better.

i am a built and suspenders nuc weapon safety engineer, we take no chances. osha would require what is called lockout/tag out!!!

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@muzikat Thanks for the encouragement, I switched it out today. Honestly, given what it looked like when I took the original receptacle out of the wall, I likely made things much safer. 

use insulated needle nose pliers and screwdriver.  That's what I do if  I work with something hot.