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How do I swap a grounded electrical outlet for an ungrounded outlet in an old house?

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While a lot of people have replaced a lot of 2 prong ungrounded outlets with 3 prong outlets, as you probably know, it is an unsafe practice. The National Electric Code (NEC) permitted method is to replace the 2 prong outlet with a 3 prong GFCI outlet such as this:

For multiple outlets, the usual practice is to install the GFCI outlet at the first outlet in the circuit, then regular 3 prong outlets can be used to replace 2 prong outlets in all the downstream outlet locations as long as the "no equipment ground" stickers that come with the GFCI outlet are used and they are now GFCI protected outlets, per NEC.

Finding the first outlet in the circuit is not always easy. First, determine which outlets are on the circuit, then starting with the outlet closest to the electric panel, disconnect the wires and see if all the other outlets went out. It's kind of trial and error.

Once you have found that first outlet in the circuit, connect the hot wires coming from the electric panel to the LINE terminals of the GFCI and the wires going to the downstream oulets to the LOAD terminals of the GFCI. Full instructions come with the GFCI outlet.
The GFCI receptacles sold today won't work if connected incorrectly, so you will soon know if you did it wrong.
Once the GFCI outlet is installed at the first outlet, all of the downstream 2 prong outlets can be replaced with 3 prong outlets, using the stickers mentioned above to indicate that the outlets are not grounded.
Strange as it sounds, all downstream outlets _must_ be ungrounded when using this method.

Posted on Aug 30, 2010

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Article 250.130 (C) Non grounding Receptacle Replacement or Branch Circuit extensions.
The equipment grounding conductor of a grounding-type receptacle or a branch-circuit extension shall be permitted to be connect to any of the following.
(1) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode system as described in 250.50
(2) Any accessible pint on the grounding electrode conductor
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Or you can see 406.3(D) replacing with a ground fault receptacle

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Where does ground wire go

Hi there, If you can give me a little more information, I'd appreciate it. However, I'm going to give it my best shot to see if I can answer what I believe you're looking for. If you're talking about the outlet (receptacle) that you're plugging your appliance into, then the ground (green) wire, or screw on the bottom of the outlet is where you want to connect your third (ground) wire to. If you just have two wires coming off your outlet (receptacle) and can't find the third wire. Then you'd ground or connect a wire to the inside of the box, and then tie with the ground (green) wire coming from the green ground screw on the outlet (receptacle). The problem with house wiring is, a majority of your older houses outlets aren't grounded. If you have a 3-prong outlet, then maybe yours is. But sometimes, people just change these out for convenience purposes. And lastly, if you're talking about the grounded wire in your appliance - look for a green (ground) screw, otherwise you want to connect this to (or around) a metal screw on the inner frame. A majority of your old appliances were never grounded. So bottom line is; your appliance should work with, or without your ground wire. It would be preferable if it was grounded. But for operating purposes, its not. I hope I was able to answer your question for you. If not, feel free to contact me again. Good Luck, Jim

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the old outlet or switch do not have "ground" per-say, if the junction box is steel and you have romax (steel jacket) cable. the casing is the ground.
you need a special cutter to cut the jacket, once you do that, you will see a steel wire inside, that is your ground.

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