Question Open Ground


Old 09-16-04, 09:15 PM
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Question Open Ground

I have a question regarding open ground receptacles.
I just found out by testing with a receptacle analyzer that all my outlets on my first floor are open ground outlets. Except for my bathroom and kitchen. They have GFCI outlets. How can I fix his other then re-wiring all the outlets? Could I replace all the receptacles with GFCI outlets to ground them? Would this work to make hem safer? Thank you for the information.
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Old 09-17-04, 04:31 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
What you apparently have is a situation where someone incorrectly replaced the old two prong receptacles with three prong ones. This is both against code and dangerous, unless GFCI protection is supplied as well. This should be corrected as soon as possible.

A GFCI receptacle does not provide a ground where no ground wire exists. The only way to provide a ground is to have a proper ground wire. Your choices to provide a ground are to either rewire with new cable that includes a ground or to add a separate ground wire that goes all the way back to the main panel and connects with the other ground wires.

You do, however, have several other options to make the installation safe. You can buy and install two prong receptacles. Two prong receptacles are safe and meet code since this is not a new installation. Your other choice is to provide GFCI protection to these receptacles. Providing GFCI protection means that you can use the three prong receptacles even though there is no ground. You can install a GFCI breaker protecting the circuit, or you can replace each GFCI receptacle with a GFCI receptacle, or you can use a few correctly placed GFCI receptacles which will protect that outlet and (if wired properly) any downstream ones. Doing so means that the receptacles need to be marked "No Equipment Ground".

Keep in mind that without a ground you should not use an devices that need a ground to function properly. Devices of this sort include surge suppressors, UPSs, desktop computers, microwave ovens and some other electronic equipment that comes with a three prong plug.

Last edited by racraft; 09-17-04 at 04:47 AM.
Old 09-17-04, 07:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
The question I always ponder first is whether this is a situation in which: (1) The outlet was never grounded in the first place, or (2) The outlet used to be grounded but something went wrong. The year in which the house built provides the best clue.

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