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, Colorado.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jay.
How to Ground an Ungrounded Outlet Circuit
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate. This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
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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The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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