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Old 10-07-2011, 04:20 PM   #1
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


I am sure this question has been asked 1,000 times already but here it goes again.

I am replacing the outlets and covers in an older home that I am renting. Some outlets are 3 way, some are 2 way. I went to the big orange store and they were out of 2 way outlets.

Thing is when I started replacing them I realized even the 3 way outlets do not appear to be grounded, no copper wire. Some of them have the white wire wrapping around the ground screw (along with the outlet part) but some don't. The outlet boxes around these are metal, I read somewhere that they may not need a ground wire as older houses with metal boxes are auto grounded (if the are properly grounded underneath).

It is a tiny moral dilemna for me as I hate to replace non-grounded outlets with 3 hole outlets that LOOK grounded but since the wiring (some of which is likely original) is all weird anyway, with metal boxes, is it safe to just use 3 way on all the outlets?

I really do not plan to electrocute myself so I am not worried about for personal reasons but maybe the landlord would care for future tenant legal reasons (not likely though, and I don't plan to ask).

Basically what I am asking is IF the metal boxes are supposed to be properly grounded underneath (and lets assume it is grounded) then is it technically okay for me to just use all 3 way? BTW they did have an electrician in here a couple of years ago fixing some stuff, so one would hope he would have checked the main ground.

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Old 10-07-2011, 04:35 PM   #2
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


You should not be doing electrical work in a rental property. If something needs to be changed the landlord should hire an electrician.

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Old 10-07-2011, 04:44 PM   #3
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


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You should not be doing electrical work in a rental property. If something needs to be changed the landlord should hire an electrician.
Thanks for the none answer. The landlords had an electrician come in right before I rented this place but they obviously did not want to spend the money to replace the outlets.

The outlets are dark brown and from the 60's with various non-matching outlet/switch plates, they have been painted over dozens of times and are truly awful looking. I am not going to ask the landlords to hire an electrician for purely COSMETIC reasons as obviously they decided NOT to spend the money and have the awful looking (and sometimes broken) things replaced two years ago.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:18 PM   #4
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Still does not matter. You change out the outlets, and you mess something up by not knowing what you are doing, is only going to get you in trouble. Now, you can use a gfci without a ground, and can mark it as un-grounded. But just because you want three prong vs 2 prong, is not going to automatically ground that outlet. Unless you cheat like some do, and that is placing a jumper between the ground pin and neutral, which is dangerous, and should never be done.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:23 PM   #5
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonya_ View Post
I am sure this question has been asked 1,000 times already but here it goes again.

I am replacing the outlets and covers in an older home that I am renting. Some outlets are 3 way, some are 2 way. I went to the big orange store and they were out of 2 way outlets.

Thing is when I started replacing them I realized even the 3 way outlets do not appear to be grounded, no copper wire. Some of them have the white wire wrapping around the ground screw (along with the outlet part) but some don't. The outlet boxes around these are metal, I read somewhere that they may not need a ground wire as older houses with metal boxes are auto grounded (if the are properly grounded underneath).

It is a tiny moral dilemna for me as I hate to replace non-grounded outlets with 3 hole outlets that LOOK grounded but since the wiring (some of which is likely original) is all weird anyway, with metal boxes, is it safe to just use 3 way on all the outlets?

I really do not plan to electrocute myself so I am not worried about for personal reasons but maybe the landlord would care for future tenant legal reasons (not likely though, and I don't plan to ask).

Basically what I am asking is IF the metal boxes are supposed to be properly grounded underneath (and lets assume it is grounded) then is it technically okay for me to just use all 3 way? BTW they did have an electrician in here a couple of years ago fixing some stuff, so one would hope he would have checked the main ground.
You should not be performing electrical work on property that you do not own. Should something go wrong while you, or even a subsequent tenant, are occupying the property, you could be held criminally/civilly liable for property damages.

I would not assume that the house system is electrically grounded just because it has metal junction boxes. You've described some of the existing outlets are grounded improperly (using the neutral) which could present a shock hazard.

Your landlord has a responsibility to ensure the safety of their property. If they are unwilling to come in and make the necessary changes, I would contact your city/county code enforcement office for help, or go find another place to live.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:46 PM   #6
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


So I guess renters never ever replace switches or outlets?

The landlords also own a well established local real estate company (rental property is a very small older house in the country). When I moved in I specifically asked if I could replace a ceiling light fixture in the bedroom with a ceiling fan and the owner said "sure". Seeing as how installing a ceiling fan requires electrical work I am quite surprised they did not specify "well you can, but you have to make sure to have a licensed electrical contractor do the work".

And no i will not demand that they do unnecessary work or go to the local housing board, they are good people and this is a very modestly priced rental (on several acres) that allows pets. I am happy here and I want them to be happy and stress free as well.

Last edited by Sonya_; 10-07-2011 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:07 PM   #7
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


If you are NOT 100% certain that the outlet is grounded properly,
It would need to be tested as such.
Then do not put a 3 way outlet on!
You will have to find some two ways.
Then it is obvious to all that it is un grounded.

BUT -
remember the many warnings,
If you change any electrical wiring,
in a rental property and something
goes wrong in the future,
then you could be held legally liable!
Because you are not licenced and insured.

SO BE VERY CAREFUL !
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:35 PM   #8
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonya_ View Post
I am sure this question has been asked 1,000 times already but here it goes again.
And yes, it has been answered a 1000 times.

Quote:
You should not be doing electrical work in a rental property. If something needs to be changed the landlord should hire an electrician.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:36 PM   #9
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Quote:
Originally Posted by dmxtothemax
If you are NOT 100% certain that the outlet is grounded properly,
It would need to be tested as such.
Then do not put a 3 way outlet on!
You will have to find some two ways.
Then it is obvious to all that it is un grounded.

BUT -
remember the many warnings,
If you change any electrical wiring,
in a rental property and something
goes wrong in the future,
then you could be held legally liable!
Because you are not licenced and insured.

SO BE VERY CAREFUL !
He will be held responsible even if he were licensed and something went wrong
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Old 10-07-2011, 07:31 PM   #10
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


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Originally Posted by Sonya_ View Post
So I guess renters never ever replace switches or outlets?

Ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner.
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:59 PM   #11
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonya_ View Post
Thanks for the none answer. The landlords had an electrician come in right before I rented this place but they obviously did not want to spend the money to replace the outlets.

The outlets are dark brown and from the 60's with various non-matching outlet/switch plates, they have been painted over dozens of times and are truly awful looking. I am not going to ask the landlords to hire an electrician for purely COSMETIC reasons as obviously they decided NOT to spend the money and have the awful looking (and sometimes broken) things replaced two years ago.
.

The answer that was provided was the correct one. You have no right to alter property that belongs to someone else. You also lack the liability insurance to protect the landlord, yourself and future tenants.

The property has issues with bootleg grounds that are endangering people already.

Just because the boxes are metal does not mean the wiring is grounded and three prong devices can be used.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:06 PM   #12
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonya_ View Post

And no i will not demand that they do unnecessary work or go to the local housing board, they are good people and this is a very modestly priced rental (on several acres) that allows pets. I am happy here and I want them to be happy and stress free as well.
It is not unnecessary to fix problems in order to provide a safe and hazard free place to live. You have admitted that there are problems and have been told that there are real hazards involved. It doesn't matter whether they are good people or the cost of the rent. I would think that good people would take care of the property an fix the problems that could have deadly consequences.
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:22 PM   #13
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Approach the landlord, tell him that you'd like to change the color of the receptacles/wall plates and would pay for a professional to do that (it really won't cost much for this part of the work), but make it clear that you won't pay for fixing any issues a duly licensed professional might find. A good landlord would not have an issue fixing problems that can affect safety.
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I really do not plan to electrocute myself so I am not worried about for personal reasons
I don't think anyone ever plans to die that way. Accidents happen. Cords fray. Equipment wears. Kids, pets, visitors.

A properly functioning "ground" will help protect you, and anyone else in your home. Look at this post: Short ciruit with Romex 10/3 cable and cable connectors Without a proper ground, it probably wouldn't have tripped the breaker, and when he touched the panel - zap.

The folks here are not trying to be mean or attack you. They are trying to look out for your safety.
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:32 PM   #14
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


As a renter you should never have the responsibility of replacing any outlet, switch, wiring, etc. The property OWNER covers this. I would NEVER allow a tenant to TOUCH ANYTHING like wiring - which if done improperly, can have severe consequences.

The landlord is too lazy to properly manage this property.
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:37 AM   #15
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Replacing old outlets (grounded vs none)


Ask the landlord on what you want to do and go from their. Landlord can kick you out if you change them without them knowing.

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