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Old 07-30-2010, 03:15 PM   #1
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Replacing outlet recepticals


I need to replace a two prong receptical with a three prong receptical but there are only two wires going to it. Is there any way to attach a ground wire to the third prong and run it to a water line or a grounding rod? Or will I have to run 3 new wires from the breaker box? I have an older home in southers Alabama.

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Old 07-30-2010, 03:53 PM   #2
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Replacing outlet recepticals


You cannont ground a receptacle by bringing an individual ground wire from the receptacle to the metal water piping of you your home.

You could run a new 3 wire (hot/neutral/ground) cable from the panel to the new location for a grounded receptacle. In my opinion, this is the best way to go.

You could also replace your 2 wire receptacle with a GFCI. That is one code compliant way to a three prong receptacle. You would need to label that GFCI as having "no equipment ground".

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Old 07-30-2010, 04:11 PM   #3
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Replacing outlet recepticals


What type of wire was use in the original configuration? If, by chance, conduit or greenfield was used you may be in luck. If it is romex cable without a ground, you will have to pull a new cable. Did you check in the box to make sure there isn't a ground tucked away?
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Old 07-30-2010, 04:14 PM   #4
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Replacing outlet recepticals


You can run a single wire to the box, possibly the grounding rod
This is allowed by code
New cable not needed
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Old 07-30-2010, 05:01 PM   #5
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Replacing outlet recepticals


Running it to a ground rod is not acceptable, but running it to the grounding electrode conductor is, provided the grounding electrode system is installed properly.
You can also run an individual wire to a water pipe ONLY if it is being properly used as a grounding electrode, and this connection MUST be made within 5' of where it enters the house.

In both these scenarios it is likely just as easy to run it back to the panel, or better yet a new circuit.
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:31 PM   #6
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Replacing outlet recepticals


Check your wiring. In my home the original romex wiring has a ground wire, but they brought it back outside of the box to a ground screw. With this method, some people might not even know it's there. Further, you might have BX wiring in which the metal sheath is considered the EGC. In either of those cases, you can just run a ground tail from the box to the receptacle.

If you didn't have any ground like this and rewiring the circuit was too much work, you can just install a GFCI into the circuit. After doing that (and wiring it properly), you can change any other receptacle after that GFCI (and protected by it) to a 3-prong receptacle. I do a lot of work in older apartments in which this is the only cost efficient way to upgrade to 3-prong receptacles.
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Old 07-31-2010, 06:16 AM   #7
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Replacing outlet recepticals


Thanks for the information. One further question - If I replace the breaker with a GFCI breaker, is the entire circuit then safe to install three prong recepticals even tho I do not have but two wires? I hate to sound stupid but am about this!
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Old 07-31-2010, 06:24 AM   #8
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Replacing outlet recepticals


It's your house! But you can't add any new receptacles off existing 2 wire circuit.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for the information. One further question - If I replace the breaker with a GFCI breaker, is the entire circuit then safe to install three prong recepticals even tho I do not have but two wires? I hate to sound stupid but am about this!
Yes, that would be fine. It would cost more for the breaker than a receptacle, so if you could find the first receptacle in the circuit and replace it with the GFCI receptacle, you would save some money.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:59 AM   #10
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It's your house! But you can't add any new receptacles off existing 2 wire circuit.
Of course you can. Take a look at 406.3 D 3 b & c.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:39 PM   #11
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Yes, that would be fine. It would cost more for the breaker than a receptacle, so if you could find the first receptacle in the circuit and replace it with the GFCI receptacle, you would save some money.
I am trying to fix the same problem in my house, and my handyman said to buy GCFI outlets to replace all the ungrounded outlets. They are very expensive though and I think many of them are on the same circuit. Are you saying that only the first outlet on a circuit needs to be the GCFI type?

Thanks
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:41 PM   #12
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Replacing outlet recepticals


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Originally Posted by LynOprinka View Post
I am trying to fix the same problem in my house, and my handyman said to buy GCFI outlets to replace all the ungrounded outlets. They are very expensive though and I think many of them are on the same circuit. Are you saying that only the first outlet on a circuit needs to be the GCFI type?

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Yes, the other outlets the feed off the LOAD side of the GFCI
This does not provide a ground
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by LynOprinka View Post
I am trying to fix the same problem in my house, and my handyman said to buy GCFI outlets to replace all the ungrounded outlets. They are very expensive though and I think many of them are on the same circuit. Are you saying that only the first outlet on a circuit needs to be the GCFI type?

Thanks
Yes. Try to find the first receptacle on the circuit, usually it will be closest to the panel. Pull out the receptacle and put wirenuts on both of the black wires. Turn the power back on and use a non-contact voltage detector to determine which black wire (and corresponding white wire) is the feed from the panel. Turn the power back off and connect these feed wires to the LINE side of the GFCI and then the other black and white to the LOAD side.

Power it back up, make sure everything works. Now press the TEST button on the GFCI and go around testing receptacles. Any receptacle that is off now (and wasn't off before) can be replaced with a normal 3 prong duplex receptacle.

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