replacing outlet

Old 11-21-02, 12:18 PM
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Location: Michigan
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Question replacing outlet

OK - at the risk of being lambasted with information like "get an electrician"...

We have an old old house. Kitchen outlets are old and grimey. I want to replace them, but I have a question... what do you do when the outlet doesn't have a neutral wire? All replacement outlets have 3 prongs, and the originals are 2 prong.

I want to change the outlets, but really not in a mood to rewire at this moment.

Do I just say "screw it" and leave them as they are?
Old 11-21-02, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
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We rarely say "get an electrician" here. We're pretty DIY friendly. However, sometimes it's clear that a person isn't quite ready to DIY yet, without further study.

So I am going to suggest further study. Your public library has some great books on home wiring that will teach you about how receptacles are wired.

You can still buy two-hole receptacles. They are a bit harder to find, and they are a bit more expensive. But not overly so in either.

You probably want GFCI protection in a kitchen anyway. Code allows you to use three-hole receptacles on an ungrounded circuit, if the receptacles are GFCI protected. Usually, you only need one GFCI receptacle per circuit to provide that protection.

Point of terminology: Your receptacles do have a neutral (officially a "grounded conductor"), or they wouldn't even work. What they are lacking is a grounding wire (officially a "equipment grounding conductor" or ECG).

The book will fill in enough information for you to complete this job, and we're here to answer questions. This is a very good first electrical project.
Old 11-21-02, 02:10 PM
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Much depends on the type of cable that was used to wire the house and the type of outlet boxes. You may have a "metallic system" if you have metal boxes and cables.------Can the wires in the outlet boxes be identified by color?
Old 11-21-02, 03:45 PM
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Thank you.
I will look a little further. We have just aquired this house, and have only scratched the surface in repairs. It has been several months of driving up and fixing. So most thoughts on what should be done next happen when we are back at our townhouse.

I have done wiring projects before, but this house is much older.

I like the GFCI suggestion - and with any luck the electric boxes will be on the same circuit. (The outlets are no where near any water, but it couldn't hurt.)

I usually sit with "how to" manuals by my side while doing repairs.

So this weekend, I will look closer at the wiring.

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