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What To Do About Your Non-Grounded Outlets

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Fix Ungrounded Outlets: Grounding an Ungrounded Circuit, What To Do About Ungrounded Outlets

Guide to Fixing Ungrounded Outlet Problems

Electrical Question: My house was built in the 60’s, and it still has all of the non-grounding wiring throughout, except to the kitchen which has been updated along with the main panel.

  • The person who I bought the home from remodeled and put in 3 prong receptacles all over the home, but obviously didn’t update the wiring, so none of the receptacles are grounded.
  • For most of the things I have plugged in around the house, I don’t need the ground, so I’m not worried about it.
  • I know I should put 2 prong receptacles in, but again, I’m not worried about it. What I am worried about is my electronics equipment. TV/Computer etc.
  • So, my question is this: Can I just run a single ground wire to each of the outlets that I want to be grounded? And if I place a GFCI receptacle on that grounded outlet, will it still protect all of the other outlets in the circuit even if they aren’t grounded? And, when running the bare ground wire to the outlets, should it be shielded, or can I just run it bare next to the old wiring?

My electronics would only be plugged into the grounded outlets.

Thank you for the reply.

This electrical question came from: Stefan, from Saint Charles, Missouri.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Stefan.

How to Fix Ungrounded Outlets

Safety Concerns About Ungrounded Outlets
Stephen, if I were you I would be concerned about your ungrounded outlets, especially if there are 3 prong outlets installed where there is no ground – in a word this is Illegal, another work would be Dangerous! The act of installing a grounded outlet where there is no ground available is very misleading and just not safe.

Grounding an Ungrounded Circuit

  • Yes, an additional ground wire may be installed to provide a ground to a device location, however this does not mean that everything else will suddenly become grounded as well.
  • A ground wire should be bonded to the ground system of the electrical panel which must be installed according to code for it to be effective.

What To Do About Ungrounded Outlets

  • Replace ungrounded outlets with 2 prong ungrounded receptacle outlets and get rid of that false ground, because it simply does not exist.
  • Consider upgrading your electrical wiring and get up to the latest code compliance, it’s just the right thing to do.

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3 Responses to “What To Do About Your Non-Grounded Outlets”
  1. John Martin says:

    A few years ago I had to replace worn outlets in my old house which was wired with 2-wire wiring. You say to install 2-prong outlets. I could not find any (I’m in Ontario, Canada), so in the living room I installed standard 3-prong outlets, but I filled the ground hole with hot glue so a 3-prong plug could not be inserted. Just using lamps and radios there. Also, I understand that a GFCI outlet does not need a ground to work, so in the kitchen I installed a GFCI in the outlet for the fridge so I could insert the fridge’s 3-prong plug and still have safety.

  2. Keith says:

    When you say it is illegal to put ungrounded 3-prong outlets over 2-prong outlets, is it illegal in your state or in the entire U.S.? Can you quote your source? Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Keith, the NEC covers the entire USA. Note the references below:

      250.130(C) Replacements when no grounding present, Separate EGC can be added from receptacle box and connect to service enclosure (electrical panel), EGC, or ground bar of panel at circuit origin.
      250.142(B) Replacements when no grounding present, It is not OK to jumper neutral and EGC.
      406.4(D)(2)(a) Replacements when no grounding present, 2-hole receptacle, OK if in area where GFCI not required.
      406.4(D)(2)(b) Replacements when no grounding present, Non-grounded GFCI or GFCI-protected receptacles require label stating No Equipment Ground.
      406.4(D)(3) Replacements when no grounding present, Must have GFCI protection in areas that now requires GFCI.

      For clarification: EGC = Equipment Ground Conductor.

      Basically, the NEC is stating that a Ground is required for the specified areas, and if one is not available then it is misleading (and illegal) to install a 3-wire grounded outlet. As noted above, there are few exceptions where a GFCI may be installed IF its is labeled as such, however I would not install a GFCI in place of a 2-wire or ungrounded outlet IF the location did not require a GFCI. Commonly this is allowed in areas where a grounded source is available such as a sink or faucet which will provide a ground and will trip the GFCI in a ground fault occurrence.



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