Outlet replacement in Old Work

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by John in herndon, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. John in herndon

    John in herndon New Member

    I have a situation in an old house where some ungrounded outlets have worn out and need to be replaced. Running a ground or new feed wire is not an option.

    What is the protocol here? Are old style 2 blade outlets still available for replacement purposes. I suspect that installing a 3 prong outlet without a ground wire will not conform to code. I ran across one where the installer bridged the neutral and ground screws --- I know that is bogus.

    Thanks for any replies
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Two prong outlets are still available. But another option is to replace it with a GFCI receptacle. This is allowed, and does provide a measure of safety. It does NOT, or course, provide a ground, and in fact such installations must have a label identifying that it is ungrounded.

    If you have computer equipment, etc, that really wants the ground, you just have to bite the bullet and install a new circuit.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    Note also that if you can find the first outlet in the daisychain, and use the load leads to supply the rest on that branch, they will be protected as well...just remember to use the stickers that come in the box to mark them.
  4. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    If (and only if) you have armored cable (or conduit) which is properly joined to metal wall boxes you may have an earth through the outer metal sheath of this and so could use ordinary three prong receptacles.

    Make sure it is AC with the aluminium bonding strip and not the very old BX cable (which does not have a bonding strip).

    I got lucky this way with my 1950s wiring, but tested each and every recepticle.

    NEC mainly - CEC frowns on this practice.

    If you do not find earth and take the GFCI route, the ground lug should not be connected to anything, but the GFCI protection itself will serve instead. The GFCI will also protect downstream (possibly also two prong outlets). If you do this to protect downstream outlets, the grounds must not be connected together. Since it wouldn't be connected to a real ground, a wiring fault could energize the cases of 3 prong devices connected to other outlets. Be sure, though, that there aren't indirect ground plug connections, such as via the sheath on BX cable. The CEC permits you to replace a two prong receptacle with a three prong if you fill the U ground with a nonconducting goop. Like caulking compound. This is not permitted in the NEC. The NEC requires that three prong receptacles without ground that are protected by GFCI must be labelled as such.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  5. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Litchfield, CT
    Depends on the year the wire was made... anything pre 50's is not code to use the jacket as a ground. in fact it could be quite dangerous...

    [edit] never mind... :)
  6. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    No, you were right to reinforce the point. Without the bonding strip (i.e. older BX), the outer metal case would pose a fire hazard if used as a ground.
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