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Electrical Wire and Cable

What To Do About Your Non-Grounded Outlets

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

My house has three prong outlets but there is no ground wire, is this safe and what should I do? How to Fix Ungrounded Outlets, Grounding an Ungrounded Circuit, What To Do About Ungrounded Outlets.

Ungrounded Outlet Problem

Electrical Question: My house has three prong outlets but there is no ground wire, is this safe and what should I do?

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.

Similar Question:

This electrical wiring question came from Brock, in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.

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.

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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. 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.


  3. 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.