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Grounding new outlets with no ground wires

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Dawn Valentine says:
September 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Hi! I am changing my 2 prong oulets to 3 prong. The boxes inside are metal but there only appears to be 2 wires present and no ground wire. Several electricians have given me different options.

  1. Put gfci circuitt breakers for the whole house.
  2. Do nothing but change to 3 prong outlit because the boxes are metal and automaticall grounded ttherefore do not need any additional safety precautions.
  3. Use a ground wire and bolt to ground each individual oulet.

Can you please advise
 

asked in Electrical by darekrudy (21,730 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Dawn,

Depending on your electrical installation inside the walls your #2&3 may or may not work. If there’s a metal conduit used to distribute wiring through the house this would sufficient to ground all of your new 3 prong receptacles.

Since some jurisdictions require extra grounding (bonding) between the receptacle ground screw and the electrical metal box you may need to install it while changing the receptacles, but, if there is no metal conduit (or 3rd wire) between the box and grounded main electrical panel, the ground wire (between the receptacle and the electrical box) will not provide any extra protection.

Installing GFCI breakers for all of the house’s electrical circuits (those breakers are expensive) will protect you from being electrocuted but it will not provide ground for the equipment plugged into it.

So, the solution would depend on your wiring. Without a metal conductor (3rd wire or metal conduit) between the outlet boxes and the main panel you can use GFCI breakers or GFCI outlets to protect each circuit. If there’s a metal conduit all you need to do is replace 2 prong with 3 prong and add an extra wire inside the box if such is required.

answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)
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