Latest Discussions : Electrical & Lighting


07:25AM | 05/01/02
Member Since: 04/30/02
6 lifetime posts
Just purchased a home built in 1960, and there are several 2-prong outlets in the house. I was planning to buy a plate with 3 prongs and replace them. Is it going to be more to this or by replacing the wall plate will do??
If I have to get a professional, how much do you guys think it would cost??
First time home owner, so I guess I'll be learning this real quick.



04:12PM | 05/01/02
Member Since: 01/22/02
101 lifetime posts
It's relatively easy to replace the plugs. Make sure you turn off the electricity to the plug in question. You will only have 2 wires to the plug. Putting in the new plug will not offer you the electrical protection that a 3 wire system would, but it will allow you to plug in devices with the ground prong without having to insert an adapter


02:00AM | 05/02/02
Member Since: 10/19/98
223 lifetime posts
The metal boxes may (should) be grounded. If so run a wire from the grounding screw to the metal box.

If the boxes are not grounded, make sure the first outlet on the circuit is a GFCI. Then wire the line and load sides correctly.

This isn't just a whim. If you don't care about your safety, at least do it for the safety of your children.


06:02AM | 05/02/02
Member Since: 04/30/02
6 lifetime posts
The reason I'm doing this is for the safety of the family. Running wire from the electrical box to the outlets, wouldn't that have to be inside the wall???
I searched around the net yesterday and I think there is an adapter for these two-prongs outlets.
Thanks for all the help guys....

Paul in Toronto

05:09PM | 05/02/02
Member Since: 10/07/01
51 lifetime posts
Hi Savannah:

The adapters you mentioned are called "cheaters" and should only be used if the electrical box is grounded. However if the box is grounded it is easy and safe to install a three prong receptacle.

Checking for a ground is easily done with a circut tester. If you have little or no electrical experience I highly recommend the Black & Decker Home Improvement book series. They have a basic and an advanced book on electrical repairs and residential wiring. The books are easy to follow and have step-by-step directions. I have found them to be very helpful.

If the electrical box is grounded you should run a bare copper wire from the grounding screw on the new receptacle (3 prong) to a grounding screw inside the electrical box as Bob suggested. This wire would only need to be approximately 4 to 5 inches and does not require you to run a wire behind the walls.

Bob is also correct in advising you to install a GFCI receptacle if the electrical box is not grounded. With no grounding wire these receptacles will not necessarily prevent damage to your appliances and electronic equipment but will protect you and your family in the event of a short circut.

I hope this information helps and good luck with the repair.



02:00AM | 05/03/02
Member Since: 10/19/98
223 lifetime posts

The boxes we are talking about are the little boxes that hold the outlets, not the fuse box or circuit breaker box. Nowadays, they are likely to be plastic. But that is ok since a ground wire is standard. When your house was built, they probably still used metal boxes. Even though the outlet was two prong, sometimes the box itself was still grounded.

If the box is not grounded a GFCI will at least protect you and your family.

Even if the box is grounded, protect the kitchen/bath outlets with a GFCI. You only need one GFCI per circuit as long as its the first outlet coming from the breakers/fuses. Wired correctly, it will protect all other circuits downstream from it.

As for safety - installing a 3-prong that is not properly grounded nor protected by a GFCI is more dangerous than the two-prong it relaces.

BTW - the B&D book is a very good reference.


05:47AM | 05/03/02
Member Since: 04/30/02
6 lifetime posts
I haven't replace the plates yet, but you're right, 'cause some of the outlets inside the house has 3-prong and some only 2.
So I guess the box is grounded, my plan is to stop by Home depot and start my attempted repairs........
Much appreciation on all the advice...



12:24PM | 05/04/02
Member Since: 01/22/02
101 lifetime posts
If this guy's got an old 2 wire system, how would any of his junction boxes or outlet boxes be grounded??

Paul in Toronto

02:06PM | 05/04/02
Member Since: 10/07/01
51 lifetime posts
To my knowledge an electrical box supplied with by a two wire system could be grounded two different ways.

The first way is that the box is supplied by an armored cable (BX or Greenfield). In this situation the metal sheathing that covers the wire acts as the ground as it connects to the back of the electrical box and to the panel.

The second way is that a bare copper wire is run from the electrical box back to the panel.

I found a strange way of grounding an electrical box in my own house which was build in the mid 50's. I replaced an electrical box that I thought was supplied by a two wire cable. When I removed the box from the wall I found a ground wire attached to a screw on he back side of the electrical box. The side of the cable had been split and the ground wire pulled back so that the ground wire never entered the box. This box had never been replaced so that work had to be origal. I had never heard of this before or since and do not think that this is a common practice.


03:55PM | 05/04/02
Member Since: 11/05/01
98 lifetime posts
Savannah, you said you are doing this for the protection of your family? With what you have posted, and the responses here, you actually are putting your family at great risk. This is not the place to be cheap. And Home Depot is NOT the place to learn about electricity, nor is the medical examiners office. Hire an electrician it is the smart thing to do. You will have no one to blame but yourself when something goes wrong. Can you sleep at night.


04:23PM | 05/09/02
Member Since: 01/22/02
101 lifetime posts
Absolutely agree electricman. Thanks Paul, I didn't think of BX cable, but you're right that is one way a 2 wire box could be grounded.


04:24AM | 08/05/02
Member Since: 03/13/00
1674 lifetime posts
One more note on the subject: even if....
"if all of the raceway and boxes are metallic, and connected continuously"...

Old metal can shrink, expand, rust corrode, and lose its electrical connectivity over the years.

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited August 05, 2002).]


07:32AM | 12/13/06
Member Since: 12/12/06
1 lifetime posts
I have followed this link and see that one approach is to put a GFI outlet in the first outlet on a circuit, which would then protect outlets further down the line on that same circuit.

My question is to find out the way to identify that first outlet! Is there an easy way? How would you go about doing that in an older house?

Many thanks



09:05AM | 12/13/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
"My question is to find out the way to identify that first outlet! Is there an easy way? How would you go about doing that in an older house?"

Typically it would be the one closes to the breaker/fuse panel. But no guarantee.

You really need to do this. Identify all of the receptacles on a circuit. Then with the power off disconnect the one that you thing that is the first one. Then turn the power back on and verify it.

However, In general I don't suggest that you do this. It will often put lights on the GFCI.

You can just use the LINE connections to the GFCI so that only that one receptacle is protected.

In general you don't need GFCI throughout the house. Few things needed a grounding receptacle.

You don't want them on refigerators, freezers, or sump pumps. Too much possiblity of damage if they trip. But you do want a true ground for them.

You can use one to feed a computer or high end audio/visual equipment. But you don't get the full advantage of any surge protection. Surge protectors need a true ground for maximum protection.

Limit the GFCI to where you need them. Bath receptacles. Garage. Basement. Outdoors. And kitchen small appliance circuits. There you can often use one GFCI at the beging of each of the two circuits to cover all of them. But if the refigerator is on one of them you might need to use individual GFCI.

Also you can use one at the beging of the circuit if it is a multi-circuit (one neutral shares two hots).

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