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-   -   Switching outlets in an older house... (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/switching-outlets-older-house-121073/)

abbyqueue 10-23-2011 09:52 PM

Switching outlets in an older house...
 
Hey everyone. I need to switch out some old, two-pronged outlets in my grandma's house. I'd like to install new three-pronged ones.

I pulled one of the outlets from the wall to take a look at it, and I saw two white wires connected to one side of the outlet, a red wire connected to the other side, and two black wires twisted together with a wire nut shoved behind the outlet. I expected to see a ground wire, but wasn't sure which was which. This particular outlet is controlled by a switch, so I figured I should check out another outlet that's not switch-controlled to see if it was any different.

The next outlet I pulled had two white wires connected to one side and two black wires connected to the other -- no ground. I looked into the box itself, hoping to find a ground wire folded up somewhere in there, but there was none. The other non-switch controlled outlets look the same.

The house was built in 1955 and I'm sure the outlets are the originals -- any ideas on how to convert them? Or if I should/can?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

RocketManZ 10-23-2011 10:34 PM

Depending how old the wiring is, if you find that the house uses metal electrical boxes, and shielded wire, that may be the ground.

In that type of wiring, the ground is carried from the breaker box all the way through the wires and to the electrical box itself. In this setup there is typically only 2 wires, and the shielded metal is the ground. You may be able to get a copper wire and hook it from the metal electrical box to the ground screw on the new 3-pronged outlet, but I'm not sure if that will work in your setup.

Someone else may be able to help chime in on the wiring scenario's you are up against.

Billy_Bob 10-23-2011 11:16 PM

If there is no ground, you can install a new two prong outlet, or install a GFCI and apply the sticker “No equipment ground" on the front. These come with GFCI's.

Note these will not allow surge protector power strips to function properly as would rewiring with grounded wiring and a 3 prong outlet.

Best would be to have an electrician rewire the outlets you want to be 3 prong...

gregzoll 10-24-2011 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RocketManZ (Post 755271)
Depending how old the wiring is, if you find that the house uses metal electrical boxes, and shielded wire, that may be the ground.

In that type of wiring, the ground is carried from the breaker box all the way through the wires and to the electrical box itself. In this setup there is typically only 2 wires, and the shielded metal is the ground. You may be able to get a copper wire and hook it from the metal electrical box to the ground screw on the new 3-pronged outlet, but I'm not sure if that will work in your setup.

Someone else may be able to help chime in on the wiring scenario's you are up against.

RocketManZ, just because the old wiring may have BX, does not make it proper to use for grounding. If the system was a fuse panel to protect, and two wire outlets, it is still two wire outlets, if the pane was changed to a breaker panel. Changing the panel does not change the technology, nor does the year that we are in, magically make the way that the house was wired when it was originally built, able to be compliant with today's codes. Only if changes were made to bring it up to code for wiring, and the panel, could it even meet current standards, and only if it was inspected to make sure that it meets them, would it even come close.

1910NE 10-24-2011 06:55 AM

abbyqueue,


1- Does your town/ state require a permit for the work you are considering? (this will vary from one area to another.)
2- Does your town/state require a license to perform the necessary work? (this will vary from one area to another.)
3- If no license is required, do YOU have the necessary skills to do the job safely?
4- WHY replace the switched? is it because all the appliances/electronics have a 3 prong plug, or some other reason?

westom 10-24-2011 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by abbyqueue (Post 755489)
The more complex this gets, the more I'm hoping there's a ground wire in the receptacles somewhere.

Some older homes ran a three wire cable from the breaker box to a first receptacle. Then only two wires daisy chained from that receptacle to all others. If a ground wire exists, then it will be obvious inside the back of that box. Often wrapped firmly around a screw. And also observed inside the breaker box. If that wire does not exist, then do not assume any safety ground exists.

Pre 1960 homes used two wire outlets to save money on the most expensive part - a third copper wire inside electric cable. Made little sense to run that third wire and then not use it.

gregzoll 10-24-2011 09:23 AM

Abbyqueue, installing gfci is not going to create grounded outlets. Hooking up three prong outlets, is not going to automatically make them grounded properly. Only way to do this safely and be assured that you have grounded outlets, is to pull all new romex, unless your area requires bx or conduit, then it is a lot more work.

If you feel that the scope of work is beyond your abilities, hiring an electrician is the proper way. Using power strips is the improper way. Same with extension cords.

abbyqueue 10-24-2011 10:00 AM

I understand that installing GFCIs or three-pronged outlets doesn't make them grounded. I don't mind them not being grounded if there's truly no ground wire already being run to the receptacles. I'm just asking what my options are, and to my understanding, I've listed them above.

gregzoll 10-24-2011 10:05 AM

Your options are either: Have an electrician update the current wiring and older panel if fuse panel; add outlets where there are not any at this time. Those are the only two options to bring it up to current codes.

jimmy21 10-24-2011 11:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by abbyqueue (Post 755548)
I understand that installing GFCIs or three-pronged outlets doesn't make them grounded. I don't mind them not being grounded if there's truly no ground wire already being run to the receptacles. I'm just asking what my options are, and to my understanding, I've listed them above.

as long as the receptacles are gfci protected you can legally install 3 prong receptacles with a sticker that reads "no equipment ground."

gregzoll 10-24-2011 02:29 PM

Yes it is legal to do so, but does not make it a grounded outlet.


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