A.Master Electrician Rex
Cauldwell responds: Most old houses have too
few receptacles to meet current code requirements.
Any wall section 2 feet wide or wider requires a
receptacle, and every point along any wall must be
within 6 feet of a receptacle. Doors and fireplaces
don't count as part of the wall, but fixed-glass
panels (like the nonsliding half of a glass slider)
do. So starting at a door frame or corner, you must
place a receptacle within 6 feet, and one at least
every 12 feet thereafter.
Receptacles dedicated to one specific appliance,
floor receptacles more than 18 inches away from the
wall, and receptacles more than 5 1/2 feet from the
floor do not count as required receptacles.
This is code minimum. For a premium job, I
suggest going beyond code and adding one receptacle
on each wall within 3 feet of a room corner, one on
each side of any window 3 feet wide or wider, and
one on each side of the bed (assuming the bed never
Receptacle height is not specified as long as
you don't exceed 5 1/2 feet from the floor.
Receptacles can be installed above that height, but
they are not counted as part of the required
And yes, receptacle outlets can be placed in the
wood trim. I do this quite often in log cabins and
renovations. However, be careful if you try to
remove outlets from or place them in antique wood
trim -- the wood is easy to damage and hard to
No receptacle is required to be switch
controlled. However, you are required to have
switched lighting in most habitable rooms. This is
usually done with an overhead light in the ceiling,
but a floor lamp plugged into a switched receptacle
also satisfies the requirement.