On yesterday's inspection I was reminded of a common electrical issue---painted receptacles. Receptacles should NOT be painted. When they are painted the surface of the receptacle from prong-to-prong can become "conductive" and internal components can be adversely affected by the paint. And, depending on the components in the paint, the paint can become very conductive (high metal content---old lead based paint etc). Sometimes receptacles get painted because of the desire to have the receptacles "disappear" into the overall color of the wall. Other times they end of painted because people are just too lazy to properly protect the outlets during painting or where frequent "economy-painting" is done---like for rental properties. It is very difficult to adequately clean painted receptacles, and I usually call for them to be replaced.
Here are a couple of heavily "painted" receptacles. In the first picture the receptacle has been caulked & painted---perhaps as an attempt stop air infiltration. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the "why" of a defect. The picture on the right shows a receptacle in an older home that has been painted many, many times.
In this next picture the GFCI receptacle has been painted to the point that the test buttons were no longer functional.
Thanks for looking,