Replacing Ungrounded Outlets with a GFI
Replacing Ungrounded 2-Prong Outlets with a Standard 3-Prong Outlet, Replacing Ungrounded 2-Prong Outlets with a GFCI Outlet.© By: Dave Rongey
GFI Outlets and Ungrounded Outlets – What Is Legal and Safe
Electrical Question: Does a GFCI outlet need a ground wire to function properly or protect from Ground faults?
- It is OK to replace the old 2 hole ungrounded outlets with outlets that have the three holes?
- If there is no ground wire will this create a risk of electrical shock?
- Is it safe to use a outlet that has three holes that is not grounded?
This electrical wiring question came from: Jeff, a Handyman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jeff.
Application: Replacing Outlets with GFCI Outlets.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best if wired 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 GFI outlets that will be installed.
Precaution: Identify the affected outlet circuits at the electric panel, turn them OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the outlet wiring.
Notice: Replacing outlets or installing GFCI Outlets should be done according to local and national electrical Codes.
Materials: Make sure to use materials of the same amperage and voltage rating as the electrical circuit.
How a GFI Outlet may be Installed In Place of an Ungrounded Outlet
- Replacing Ungrounded 2-Prong Outlets with a GFCI Outlet
- An old style non-grounded outlet may be replaced with a GFCI outlet and the Ground Fault protection circuitry and capabilities will still work.
- When replacing a 2-wire outlet with a GFCI outlet the outlet must be labeled indicating that there is no ground available. A label is provided with the GFCI outlet for this type of application.
- Replacing Ungrounded 2-Prong Outlets with a Standard 3-Prong Outlet
- You may not replace a two prong ungrounded outlet with a standard 3-wire grounded outlet that has a ground prong unless there is a ground wire connection available.
- Installing a standard 3-wire outlet that is not grounded is not safe and is illegal by electrical code standards and this is not an acceptable practice.
- The danger is that there is no ground wire available, therefore there is no provision to interrupt the circuit in the event of a ground fault.
- Ungrounded outlets may increase the risk of electrical shock potential.
More about Wiring GFCI Outlets
- Wiring Electrical Outlet for the Home
- Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.
- GFCI Wiring
- This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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