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Old 03-24-2010, 07:50 PM   #1
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Hello, this is my first trip to this forum. I have a question please,
My home was built in the 50's and the outlets are wasted. I want to replace them with 3 prong oulets but when I removed the outlets there are only the 2 wires, no ground. I had thought that the old metal boxes would be grounded but they're not. I was discussing this with a friend and he mentioned that he has seen the neutral (white) used as a ground because it would connect at the breaker box ground bar also. Is this ok? Thanks for any info.

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Old 03-24-2010, 07:51 PM   #2
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No, definitely do not use the white as a ground
Its illegal & dangerous
Install a GFCI for 3 -prong outlet & label No ground present
Or run a seperate ground back to the panel

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Old 03-24-2010, 07:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rc6069 View Post
Hello, this is my first trip to this forum. I have a question please,
My home was built in the 50's and the outlets are wasted. I want to replace them with 3 prong oulets but when I removed the outlets there are only the 2 wires, no ground. I had thought that the old metal boxes would be grounded but they're not. I was discussing this with a friend and he mentioned that he has seen the neutral (white) used as a ground because it would connect at the breaker box ground bar also. Is this ok? Thanks for any info.
This is a very bad idea. Neutral is a current-carrying conductor (which is why it's insulated in romex). If you hook up neutral to a ground prong, then that current has another path it can follow, other than back to the breaker. That new path is out the ground prong and into the chassis of whatever device you hook to it.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm absolutely sure, that in a horrible economic time, that if neutral could be used as ground, it certainly would've already been done.
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:13 PM   #4
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Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm absolutely sure, that in a horrible economic time, that if neutral could be used as ground, it certainly would've already been done.
Economic conditions have nothing to do with this bad idea...unless you consider a severe increase in home-owner or life insurance premiums as an indicator of how this practice could relate to the economy.

As already stated, it is absolutely wrong to use the neutral conductor in a branch circuit as an equipment bonding (grounding) conductor.
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:28 PM   #5
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I was saying, if cheaper products could be used safely, it would've already happened (such as using romex with no ground). If you did not understand that, I apologize.
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Old 03-24-2010, 09:51 PM   #6
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Thank you all for the information, it is appreciated very much.May I ask perhaps a dumb question ( and I am not trying to be argumentative). Why does the ground lead and the neutral tie into the same bar at the breaker box? If there was a problem on the neutral wire, wouldn't it be able to travel back up the ground wire and into the used device? Thanks for any education here and please no back hands. ()
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:48 PM   #7
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You are correct...the neutral and 'ground' bars are bonded at the main service panel. But, using neutral conductors as bonding conductors in branch circuits could (would) result in a piece of equipment becoming energized. Meaning, a piece of equipment becoming energized in parts which are not intended to become energized (example: body of a washing machine or dryer). Remember, the neutral conductors complete the circuit and allow current to flow back to the generating source. If you connect a current carrying conductor to the body of a device, then the body is energized.
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:54 PM   #8
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Thank you jlmran, I see what you're saying now. The frame work would then carry voltage and if you were bare footed or had some moisture on the floor you would be in trouble, correct?



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You are correct...the neutral and 'ground' bars are bonded at the main service panel. But, using neutral conductors as bonding conductors in branch circuits could (would) result in a piece of equipment becoming energized. Meaning, a piece of equipment becoming energized in parts which are not intended to become energized (example: body of a washing machine or dryer). Remember, the neutral conductors complete the circuit and allow current to flow back to the generating source. If you connect a current carrying conductor to the body of a device, then the body is energized.
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:51 PM   #9
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Thank you jlmran, I see what you're saying now. The frame work would then carry voltage and if you were bare footed or had some moisture on the floor you would be in trouble, correct?
You could receive a shock if the conditions were just right.

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