Monday, February 14, 2011

Ungrounded outlets.


The problem of ungrounded outlets is prevalent in homes constructed prior to 1960. The actual 2 conductor wiring is typically the real problem and not the actual outlet itself.
Origonally when the electrician wired the homes back in the day, he used the proper methods of that time, being the 2 conductor wire. Sometime later, more 'modern' electricians came in and replaced the origonal two prong outlets with the three prong outlets which are popular today. Unfortunately doing so, without an actual 3rd conductor to connect to that 3rd prong of the outlet, can be very dangerous.
There are only a few ways to safely deal with this issue. According to current NEC code standards, a grounding type receptacle (3 prong) shall be connected to a functioning equipment grounding conductor. If no such conductor exists, or is not functional then a 3 prong cannot be used. (NEC 2008 406.3 D1,3a,b,c)
There are other replacements which satisfy the requirements, but nothing can actively ground a receptical without running a new wire.
Installing a GFCI receptical to each outlet location will satisfy the requirements and add a level of safety but, again, nothing will actually ground an outlet without running a new wire.
It would be acceptable to run an individual conductor from each outlet directly to the main panel where the actual feed circuit originates. This method is both impractical and very costly. The best option is to rewire each outlet with a new grounded circuit, and rewire each outlet from there on.
This is the only 100 percent guarantee that the outlets are not only grounded, but up to current code and safety standards.


Thank you.
Michael J

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