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Old 07-04-2008, 10:02 PM   #1
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


I have some limitations in what I do: I'm in an apartment with 2 prong outlets. The Kitchen has 3 prong outlets but there is no ground wire but there is a GFI outlet at the beginning of that run, so I see how the kitchen is allowed to have 3 prong outlets with no connection to ground.
Question one: Does it make any sense, or is it a hazard, to connect a wire from neutral to ground in these 3 prong outlets?

I have no access to run a ground wire to any outlet.

I want to replace the 2 prong outlets in the living areas with 3 prong outlets. The practice is to use the 2-prong to 3-prong adapters to plug 3 prong plugs into these outlets.

Compared to using the adapters everywhere, do I have either of these 2 options:
1. replace outlets with 3 prong outlets and leave the ground unconnected (which seems to be the same as using the 3prong-to-2prong adapters)?

2. replace with 3 prong outlets and connect the outlet's ground to the neutral wire (as well as connecting the neutral to the outlet's neutral connection).

What is your advice on this?


Last edited by border collie; 07-04-2008 at 10:09 PM. Reason: clarified
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:16 PM   #2
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


i think both those options are out. the only way i know of is putting in a GFCI and taking all the other recpticals off of the load side. BTW Happy fourth of July.

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Old 07-04-2008, 10:33 PM   #3
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


Do NOT connect the neutral to the ground. It is illegal and unsafe.

If this is an apartment, you should not be doing any electrical work. In many (most) jurisdictions, it is illegal and the liability you are incurring working on somebody elses property is way more trouble than yo want.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:37 PM   #4
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


The connection of the neutral to ground on a grounding type receptacle is a very bad idea. Remember the neutral is a current carrying wire, connecting it to the ground screw of the receptacle allows current that should be only on the neutral a new path to follow other than the one back to the main panel and then to the center tap of the transformer (source). If you plug a 3 prong appliance into the receptacle neutral current may under the right conditions flow from the neutral to the ground screw to the ground wire of the appliance power cord then to the metal frame of the appliance ..... if you touch the appliance and provide a ground path back to the source you could be shocked or worse.

Last edited by Stubbie; 07-04-2008 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:52 PM   #5
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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The connection of the neutral to ground on a grounding type receptacle is a very bad idea. Remember the neutral is a current carrying wire, connecting it to the ground screw of the receptacle allows current that should be only on the neutral a new path to follow other than the one back to the main panel and then to the center tap of the transformer (source). If you plug a 3 prong appliance into the receptacle neutral current may under the right conditions flow from the neutral to the ground screw to the ground wire of the appliance power cord then to the metal frame of the appliance ..... if you touch the appliance and provide a ground path back to the source you could be shocked or worse.
I see. You make this point clearly - I understand why it's such a bad idea. In a normal outlet, ground goes to the panel grounding bar with neutral connecting there, but any current flow will go to ground rather than back to the outlet and a person. I've always wondered why it's different for ground and neutral to be connected at the panel, but bad to connect together at an outlet.

Thank you.

I acknowledge that working on the landlord's electrical property is not a good idea.
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:24 PM   #6
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


You have it almost correct. Neutral current will not go to ground assuming the service neutral is intact back to the serving transformer center tap. Neutral and ground are bonded at the service equipment ( 'Main' disconnect panel) so that neutral current from branch circuits and feeders and fault currents (if any) can return to the transformer (not ground). The only path back to the transformer is the service neutral so both equipment ground and grounded legs (neutrals) are bonded to the service neutral at the 'main' panel to allow this low impedance path back to the center tap. Current will not flow to earth in any appreciable amps do to the high resistance of dirt to current flow.

Bear in mind current will take all paths available to get back to the source transformer (including the earth) however given a low impedance path virtually all current will flow on that path. In the attached diagram I've shown the path for current in the event of a fault at a receptacle, same logic applies to your grounded legs and neutrals
Attached Thumbnails
2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?-bonding-diagram.jpg  

Last edited by Stubbie; 07-07-2008 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 07-05-2008, 07:57 AM   #7
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


Thank you for the diagram, Mr. Stubby, and the additional explanation. I appreciate the time people have taken here to help me.
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Old 07-05-2008, 08:18 AM   #8
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


Now that's what I like about this forum!
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:24 AM   #9
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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You're just a regular Picasso there Stubbie.
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:56 AM   #10
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


if you really wanted to change and are ok with being a pain in the a$$ tenant..

scour the code book and look for something that was not wired to code back in the day when it was installed. perhaps the box is overful with wires & marrets? or perhaps a wire along its way to the box is rubbing up against the side of a vent (needs minimum clearance).

then when the landlord "fixes" teh minor issue they are obligated to upgrade to current code - which includes proper 3 wire system.

ps. if ANYTHING is not to the code of when the original wiring was done, then it is NOT GRANDFATHERED period. so that excuse is out the window.

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Old 07-06-2008, 12:41 PM   #11
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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Originally Posted by Knucklez View Post
if you really wanted to change and are ok with being a pain in the a$$ tenant..

scour the code book and look for something that was not wired to code back in the day when it was installed. perhaps the box is overful with wires & marrets? or perhaps a wire along its way to the box is rubbing up against the side of a vent (needs minimum clearance).

then when the landlord "fixes" teh minor issue they are obligated to upgrade to current code - which includes proper 3 wire system.



Knucklez
most often, not true. A repair does not invoke any sort of update other than the specific area being worked on, at most, in most jurisdictions.

in other words, if a 2 wire recep needs to be replaced, it does not have to be upgraded to a 3 wire recep not will it require a EGC be installed.

Each local jurisdiction applies their own rules but it usually takes something quite major for the OP's situation to be mandated to be upgraded to current code.
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:26 PM   #12
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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Originally Posted by Knucklez View Post
then when the landlord "fixes" teh minor issue they are obligated to upgrade to current code - which includes proper 3 wire system.

ps. if ANYTHING is not to the code of when the original wiring was done, then it is NOT GRANDFATHERED period. so that excuse is out the window.

Knucklez
Is that how it works in Canada? Not in the USA. So adding a receptacle or changing a light fixture will result in a complete building re-wire to the latest code? Wow.
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:53 PM   #13
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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Originally Posted by border collie View Post
I have some limitations in what I do: I'm in an apartment with 2 prong outlets. The Kitchen has 3 prong outlets but there is no ground wire but there is a GFI outlet at the beginning of that run, so I see how the kitchen is allowed to have 3 prong outlets with no connection to ground.
Question one: Does it make any sense, or is it a hazard, to connect a wire from neutral to ground in these 3 prong outlets?

I have no access to run a ground wire to any outlet.

I want to replace the 2 prong outlets in the living areas with 3 prong outlets. The practice is to use the 2-prong to 3-prong adapters to plug 3 prong plugs into these outlets.

Compared to using the adapters everywhere, do I have either of these 2 options:
1. replace outlets with 3 prong outlets and leave the ground unconnected (which seems to be the same as using the 3prong-to-2prong adapters)?

2. replace with 3 prong outlets and connect the outlet's ground to the neutral wire (as well as connecting the neutral to the outlet's neutral connection).

What is your advice on this?

Do NOT change any of the wiring, in the event of an electrical fire, YOU could be held responsible, what if somebody dies in the fire? Im not saying you will mess up. Id just stay away from this.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:35 AM   #14
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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Do NOT change any of the wiring, in the event of an electrical fire, YOU could be held responsible, what if somebody dies in the fire? Im not saying you will mess up. Id just stay away from this.
Very good advice. Have the landlord replace the other 2 prong receptacle outlets with GFCI receptacles as was done in the kitchen.
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:55 AM   #15
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2 wire outlets: connect neutral to ground?


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You're just a regular Picasso there Stubbie.
HA HA

Yep I am above average in the manipulation of PAINT....I especially like creating my on custom colors.....

Picasso is a bit over board though........

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