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Old 01-07-2007, 11:44 PM   #1
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


Ok, so I want new outlets because the ones I have have been painted a couple times and just look lousy. Home Depot doesn't seem to have them, they told me to use the three wire plugs and run a wire to the box for a ground. It doesn't seem like that would actually ground anything to me though unless the box was grounded.
If I can't buy two prong outlets is their any way to ground them without a re-wire? The wireing isn't very old and a re-wire really isn't in the budget now.

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Old 01-08-2007, 09:26 AM   #2
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


You will have to look and see if your wiring currently includes a bare ground wire. If so, an upgrade to three-prong, grounded outlets is simple. If you just have a black and white wire, you can't ground them without at least some rewiring. What the Home Depot was telling you is correct, you can just run a single ground wire to each outlet and then connect them to the cold water pipe in your house, or back to the breaker panel. Telling you to run the wire "to the box" is technically correct, but not very informative. What you are supposed to do is connect the ground wire to both the box and the green screw on the new outlet, that way the box is also grounded in case a live wire were to touch it, it would not become energized. This method is less expensive than running new wire for everything, but you still have to locate the box, drill the hole, fish the wire, etc., so the difficult part still remains.

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Old 01-08-2007, 05:25 PM   #3
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


Connecting a ground wire to a water pipe in not code in the USA. It is permitted in Canada. So ignore that advice.

You can legally replace the receptacle with three prong GFCI receptacles and apply the stickers indicating ungrounded GFCi.
If your boxes are grounded then you can do as the HD rep says. But you must verify that boxes are grounded.
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Old 01-08-2007, 06:16 PM   #4
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


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Originally Posted by TronCarter View Post
What the Home Depot was telling you is correct, you can just run a single ground wire to each outlet and then connect them to the cold water pipe in your house, or back to the breaker panel. Telling you to run the wire "to the box" is technically correct, but not very informative.
What Joe said is correct. DO NOT do this! IMO it is extremely unsafe under most residential circumstances.
Here is the Handbook commentary about this:

Section 250.130(C) applies to both ungrounded and grounded systems. It permits a nongrounding-type receptacle to be replaced with a grounding-type receptacle under the following conditions.
1. The branch circuit does not contain an equipment ground.
2. An existing branch circuit is being extended for additional receptacle outlets.
3. An equipment grounding conductor is connected between the receptacle grounding terminal to any accessible point on the grounding electrode system, to any accessible point on the grounding electrode conductor, to the grounded service conductor within the service equipment enclosure, or to the equipment grounding terminal bar in the enclosure from which the circuit is supplied.
The requirement in 250.52(A)(1) does not permit this separate equipment grounding conductor to be connected to the metal water piping of a building or structure beyond the first 5 ft of where the piping enters the building or structure unless the conditions of the exception to 250.52(A)(1) can be met.
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Old 01-08-2007, 07:02 PM   #5
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


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Connecting a ground wire to a water pipe in not code in the USA. It is permitted in Canada. So ignore that advice.

You can legally replace the receptacle with three prong GFCI receptacles and apply the stickers indicating ungrounded GFCi.
If your boxes are grounded then you can do as the HD rep says. But you must verify that boxes are grounded.
Sorry, I am in Canada and didn't realize that code is different in the US. Thank you for pointing that out. What is the proper way to do it, run it back to the panel? What about a rod pounded into the ground outside?
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Old 01-08-2007, 08:25 PM   #6
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


I think the water pipe ground was legal in US code a few revisions back, but it;s definitely out now. You should try to stay away from it even in Canada because it's hard to be sure nobody has swapped in a piece of PVC pipe somewhere or a PCV shutoff valve, thus elminating the usefulness of the pipe as a ground.

As for driving a new ground rod, I may start an argument here, but I think that's fine but the new rod must be tied to the house grounding electrode system (ie most likely a pounded rod near the breaker panel).

There's another Article (406) that deals specifically with replacing ungrounded outlets. It says you can (1) just replace the two-prong with another two-prong (they do exist, mabe just not at HD), or 2) install a GFI. Note that if the GFI is used to feed ownstream outlets, they'll be protected also. (And, yes, they're supposed to be marked "No ground")

Where are these outlets? If in bath, kitched (certain exceptions aply), out doors, garage or unfinished basement, the GFI is required anyway.

Phil S.
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Old 01-08-2007, 08:39 PM   #7
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


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As for driving a new ground rod, I may start an argument here, but I think that's fine but the new rod must be tied to the house grounding electrode system (ie most likely a pounded rod near the breaker panel).
No argument because it is expressly allowed. The key is bonding it to the existing GES. Thing is, if you can bond to the GES why bother sinking another rod?

A ground rod alone though is a TOTALLY different story. A ground rod DOES NOT provide a ground. Ground rods are VERY misunderstood and do not do what most folks think they do or equate them with.
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Old 01-08-2007, 08:51 PM   #8
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


Do the GFCI thing. It's a great way to replace old 2-prong receptacles in a situation where replacement wiring costs or installation may be too much to bear.
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Old 01-09-2007, 07:02 AM   #9
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


How about a situation where armored cable is used? Under what circumstances can it be used as a ground. I have heard of certain TYPES of armored having the possiblity of overheating...The link below from code check gives a rule of thumb...what do you pros think of it? is it correct or am I misunderstanding it?

http://www.codecheck.com/250_50_commentary.html
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:11 AM   #10
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Replacements for two prong outlets?


...bump...

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