Outlet Grounding Upgrades
How to Ground an Ungrounded Outlet Circuit: In some cases, a separate ground wire may be installed for the ungrounded circuit or device and connected to the bonded ground system.
Grounding an Outlet Circuit
Electrical Question I have a home with a mostly two prong outlets, which I would like to replace with 3 prong outlets.
- I have tested them and the outlets on my main floor have grounded outlet boxes, so I was able to just use self grounding three prong outlets.
- The outlets in my basement, however, are not giving me a voltage reading when I test for ground.
- I have tried testing for ground by using both the center screw and the box itself, but do not get any voltage reading.
- I even went so far as to install a three prong outlet and test the ground through the outlet, but I did not get any voltage reading.
- Inside the box, there is a ground wire. I tried connecting it to the outlet box and I tried connecting it to the outlet grounding screw. I did not get a ground reading either using either method.
- I would really like to avoid running a new ground wire, and I figure there must be an easier fix since the ground wire is already in place. Any suggestions for how to fix my grounding problem?
- One person has suggested checking the main electrical panel to see if the ground wire is properly connected to the neutral bar, and I will try that. Are there any other methods to troubleshoot the problem?
BTW, if I can’t find a better solution, I will install GFCI outlets, but I’d prefer not to have to do that as the outlet boxes already installed are too shallow and would have to be replaced, which I have heard can be a real pain.
Thanks so much for any assistance you can provide.
This electrical wiring question came from: Jay, a Homeowner from Denver, CO
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jay.
How to Ground an Ungrounded Outlet Circuit
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of outlets that will be replaced.
Precaution: Identify the outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional outlet wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Installing a Ground System
- When testing to a metal outlet box or to the ground prong does not produce a normal voltage reading, or if a plug in circuit analyzer shows that a ground is not detected then these readings mean that the circuit wiring does not have a ground wire, so the circuit is not grounded.
- If there are other circuits in the home that do in fact have a ground wire and they test normal then the ground system at the main panels should be OK, but should be verified.
- If an older home has grounded outlets they should to be tested with a circuit analyzer and inspected to make sure that the grounding method is legal.
- The method of installing a jumper wire from the neutral to the ground screw of a receptacle outlet is an illegal and dangerous practice which can cause problems for the home electrical system, can damage the devices that are plugged in, and creates a dangerous potential shock hazard for the user.
- Installing a self-grounding outlet or any three prong or grounded outlet or a GFCI outlet will not magically produce a ground, all it does is provide a ground prong which has no connection to a grounded source, so it is in fact an illegal installation.
- The circuit wiring may be replaced and upgraded with new cabling which has a ground wire.
- In some cases, a separate ground wire may be installed for the ungrounded circuit or device and connected to the bonded ground system.
- Installed ground wires must be connected to the bonded ground system of the main electrical panel of the home.
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