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Old 01-10-2012, 05:13 PM   #1
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Can these outlets be grounded?


Hey everyone, I just bought a new home that was built in 1942 and most of the outlets are 2 prong outlets. There are also a few 3 prong outlets that have open ground.
I need to replace all of the outlets with 3 prong grounded outlets. Here is a picture of the insides...my question is, can this be done without rewiring, or can a ground be hooked into one of the screws in the back of the box? It is Romex wire. Thanks very much for any info.
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:21 PM   #2
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Can these outlets be grounded?


No 2-wire outlets do not have the ability for a ground plug. If there is BX with the thin #22 steel wire, which may be wrapped on the backside of the box, that means that the outer covering is grounded, but not good as a path for ground by today's standards.

Your best bet is to check for your area, what is required for homeowners to do their own electrical work, then figure up how many outlets you need, along with #14 & #12 romex to complete the job.

Now add to that the costs for new breaker panel, meter pan, drop to the meter pan, and permit, your costs go up.

Btw, that is not Romex. There were 3 types of wiring in use around that time. BX, Knob & Tube, 2-wire rubber insulated/cloth covered, that was the predecessor to today's version of Romex. It really depended on the part of the country & the supplies available, in what was used in the homes, even though it was around the time of WW2.

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Old 01-10-2012, 06:04 PM   #3
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Can these outlets be grounded?


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Originally Posted by KDOC View Post
Hey everyone, I just bought a new home that was built in 1942 and most of the outlets are 2 prong outlets. There are also a few 3 prong outlets that have open ground.
Go downstairs to the fuse or breaker panel and take a couple close up pics of how THE OTHER END of these wires attaches to the metal panel box.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:25 PM   #4
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Can these outlets be grounded?


Ok, here are pics of the panel..I have a contractor coming to look on Thursday and after explaining the situation, he thought he could use the ground from the metal box and install new 3 prong grounded outlets. I have a circuit tester and will make sure it is correct but want to prevent someone from trying to screw us over.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:42 PM   #5
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Can these outlets be grounded?


You can run temporary ground wires from locations where you substituted a 3 prong receptacle, back to the panel. (Use 14 or 12 gauge to match the circuit wires). These do not have to follow the exact route of the existing circuit wires. When you upgrade existing circuit wires, the new cables must have ground wires and any temporary ground wires for those locations decommissioned.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:48 PM   #6
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Can these outlets be grounded?


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Originally Posted by KDOC View Post
I have a contractor coming to look on Thursday and after explaining the situation, he thought he could use the ground from the metal box and install new 3 prong grounded outlets.
He was hoping that a house that age was done using an armored cable (like BX)
which is also why I had you take pics at the panel. To see what is in there.

Quote:
Ok, here are pics of the panel..
Thanks. And yes, you do in fact have (old, old) Romex in there.

This means that in order to have a proper ground (and for other reasons)...
you'll need to REWIRE all of these receptacles. It's not a small job.

Quote:
I have a circuit tester and will make sure it is correct but want to prevent someone from trying to screw us over.
Most of the job is labor.
Some art... but mostly just sweaty and dirty work.

hth


PS: if it makes you feel any better I'm in the same boat.

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Old 01-10-2012, 07:29 PM   #7
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Can these outlets be grounded?


thanks everyone for the info...just to get this all straight, when I have the contractor over to look at this, If he thinks the outlets can be properly grounded without rewiring recepticles, he is definitely wrong? And the reason is because the outlets are wired with OLD romex with no ground, and not BX wire with metal casing connected to a metal box?

Question 2... thanks
I will probably end up rewiring the entire house....BUT,
What is the harm in keeping these outlets as is.. If a gfci were installed, would that protect me and my family? If so, would my equipment also be ok? (cpu, tv's, gaming consols, dehumidifier) The fridge, washer, and dryer are all on appropriate grounded outlets.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:42 PM   #8
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Can these outlets be grounded?


There is no harm using gfci, other than it is a very expensive option, and you still will not have a ground at the outlets.

As for the contractor, no he is not incorrect, he is very correct that this will be a very costly job for them to do.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:52 PM   #9
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Can these outlets be grounded?


Thanks for the reply. I was actually asking if he would be incorrect by saying they COULD be grounded without rewiring. I have a feeling that's what he will say, considering the circumstances. As far as the gfci outlets, I saw that they sell for 8 or 9$.. I'm just wondering at this point what the pros/cons of going that route instead of rewiring my whole house would be.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:53 PM   #10
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Can these outlets be grounded?


Quote:
Originally Posted by KDOC View Post
If he thinks the outlets can be properly grounded without rewiring recepticles, he is definitely wrong?
Worse. He is uniformed.
And as a contractor he is passing up a far more lucrative job.

Quote:
And the reason is because the outlets are wired with OLD romex with no ground, and not BX wire with metal casing connected to a metal box?
or other suitable means to create a proper ground path.
(there are other ways that approach being right... but don't quite get there)
Quote:
I will probably end up rewiring the entire house....BUT,
What is the harm in keeping these outlets as is..
It's mostly negligible... but!
The but is that the insulation on this era of wire tends to deteriorate and does present greater risk than even older wire (and of course new wire).

In the event you were to close up your basement ceiling (as I plan to do) then it becomes an important job to prepare the house for a 100 year event.

Of note: If/when you do this the new circuits need to be AFCI.

Quote:
The fridge, washer, and dryer are all on appropriate grounded outlets.
Are you sure? CONFIRM that the entire circuit is grounded.

Quote:
If a gfci were installed, would that protect me and my family?
If so, would my equipment also be ok? (cpu, tv's, gaming consols, dehumidifier)
Like for the Kitchen and Bath uses... it makes sense to run some other properly grounded circuits around the house.

Of note: If/when you do this the new circuits need to be AFCI.


hth

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Old 01-10-2012, 07:54 PM   #11
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Can these outlets be grounded?


Quote:
Originally Posted by KDOC View Post
BUT,
What is the harm in keeping these outlets as is..
For the majority of the house, there really isn't any harm. If you look at the majority of your appliances, most of them probably have a 2 prong plug on them, so a grounded receptacle won't give you any more safety.

Electronic equipment with a 3 prong plug should really have a ground. I would at the very least install GFCI protection in the bathroom and kitchen. (if you don't have it already) By the NEC anytime you replace an old receptacle in an area that is required to have GFCI protection currently, it the replacement needs to be GFCI protected as well. 406.3(D)2
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:11 PM   #12
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Can these outlets be grounded?


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Originally Posted by junkcollector View Post
For the majority of the house, there really isn't any harm. If you look at the majority of your appliances, most of them probably have a 2 prong plug on them, so a grounded receptacle won't give you any more safety.

Electronic equipment with a 3 prong plug should really have a ground. I would at the very least install GFCI protection in the bathroom and kitchen. (if you don't have it already) By the NEC anytime you replace an old receptacle in an area that is required to have GFCI protection currently, it the replacement needs to be GFCI protected as well. 406.3(D)2
Actually it is section 210.8 that explains the use.

"Exhibit 210.6 shows a typical circuit arrangement of a
GFCI. The line conductors are passed through a sensor and
are connected to a shunt-trip device. As long as the current
in the conductors is equal, the device remains in a closed
position. If one of the conductors comes in contact with a
grounded object, either directly or through a person’s body,
some of the current returns by an alternative path, resulting
in an unbalanced current. The toroidal coil senses the unbal-
anced current, and a circuit is established to the shunt-trip
mechanism that reacts and opens the circuit. The circuit de-
sign does not require the presence of an equipment ground-
ing conductor, which is the reason 406.4(D)(3)(b) permits
the use of GFCIs as replacements for receptacles where a
grounding means does not exist."

*2011 NEC
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:32 PM   #13
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Can these outlets be grounded?


My house wiring looks the same. Old wire with some new wire just like your pictures. I'm slowly going to rewire one room at a time. I may keep my same panel and just replace as much old wire as I can so I have more grounds. Hardest part is running the wire in the walls.

Anyone know what year that old wire is in the first picture? My house deed says built in 1900 and that is the original wiring in my home. If its 1940's then my deed may be wrong. Just wondering.
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:53 PM   #14
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Can these outlets be grounded?


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Originally Posted by tealflame View Post
Anyone know what year that old wire is in the first picture? My house deed says built in 1900 and that is the original wiring in my home. If its 1940's then my deed may be wrong. Just wondering.
I was gonna comment on that in your thread...
Romex didn't even exist before the mid 1920's.

A 1900 house was almost certainly wired with Knob and Tube originally.
If your house is such, then you're now undertaking the *second* rewiring of that house.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:04 PM   #15
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Can these outlets be grounded?


1930's until 1965, was when early NM was used. BX was used from the 20's until the 40's, which was the step up from K&T. Would rather have had them stay with BX until 65, due to a lot better than that rubber coated with cloth crap, that is a good firestarter, like Knob & Tube. Now of course, Metal Conduit was used from the 40's until the 70's, which is a good step up over BX, due to real easy for rewiring, but bad when fires happen. Same with BX. You tend to get runaways that can smolder or hours, before the actually flames start appearing.

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