Putting in a new wall outlet????

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  #1  
Old 10-04-04, 06:00 PM
shocked Brad
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Putting in a new wall outlet????

Please help guys.

I was at my grandma's house and somehow one of the covers on her outlet in the living room got broken well easy I took the screw out in the middle to replace it. (after turing of the circuits) and this thing hasn't been opened since 1950 something any way she wanted a hole new thing to be put in and I got a whole new outlet and plate cover. But before I wire it up I should mention that their are only two wires comming out of the wall the new recepical thing has 5 screws one the green to ground and 2 on the black wire side and 2 on the white. Question is do I wire the black to black side on the top and then white to white side on the top or one on the top and one of the bottom or what?? On the old one there was only one place on each side to put the wires. One on the upper left and white on the lower right. I to be able to plug 2 appliances in to this out let so plese help. I really want to get this thing back right


THANKS SO MUCH
 
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  #2  
Old 10-04-04, 06:17 PM
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If there is no grounding connection, then it is not legal to install an ordinary three-hole receptacle (two slots and a "D" grounding hole). So if you bought such a receptacle, you will need to take it back. You may either buy a GFCI receptacle, or you may buy a receptacle without the grounding hole (perhaps hard to find).

If the wiring is aluminum, you also need to buy a receptacle rated CO/ALR.

Anyway, once you get the proper receptacle, attach the black wire to either brass screw (or the brass "line" side screw if a GFCI), and the white wire to either silver screw (or the silver "line" side screw if a GFCI).
 
  #3  
Old 10-04-04, 06:24 PM
shocked Brad
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why is illgeal to do that. What happens if I do? The guys at my locals lowes handed me that after I had told them the same story as I just told you. They don't make the standard two holers anymore according to the guys at lowes
 
  #4  
Old 10-04-04, 07:10 PM
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I think the reason is so that someone could not plug a three-prong cord into the receptacle thinking it would be grounded. I've run into houses that even though they had two-hole recep's installed there was a ground at the metal box.

If that is the case you could either buy some self-grounding receptacles or attach a ground wire with a green ground screw to the back of the box. Most current metal boxes have a 8x32 tap in them for the ground screws. If they don't and the box does in fact have ground it wouldn't be too hard to drill and tap a hole.

Also a GFCI will not work correctly without a ground.
 
  #5  
Old 10-04-04, 07:19 PM
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Also a GFCI will not work correctly without a ground
Unsung, I agree with everything you said except for the quote above. A GFCI will work perfectly without a ground.

They certainly do still make two-slit receptacles, but your Lowe's apparently doesn't carry them. Try someplace else. But I'd go with the GFCI.

What exactly do you plan to plug into this receptacle?
 
  #6  
Old 10-04-04, 07:27 PM
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I'm curious, how do you get one to work w/o a ground?
 
  #7  
Old 10-04-04, 07:38 PM
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The GFCI compares the current on the hot against the current on the neutral, and trips if they are unequal by 5mA or more. The grounding connection doesn't come into play at all in the ground fault detection circuitry. The GFCI isn't really detecting a current to ground--it only detects a current that goes someplace other than from the hot to the neutral. In order to provide protection, you want it to detect current that goes through your body, not current that goes harmlessly to the grounding connection.
 
  #8  
Old 10-04-04, 07:47 PM
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I understand that but let me ask this. Why does the GFCI (self-grounding) when installed in a grounded box trip when you press the test button but if it is swinging out of the wall with just the hot and nuetral on it not trip when the test button is pushed?

Will the GFCI still trip when there is a problem even if you can't manually make it trip by pressing the test button?
 
  #9  
Old 10-04-04, 07:53 PM
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The internal tester (i.e., the TEST button on the front) works by connecting a resistor between the input hot and the output neutral (or vice versa). It can therefore trip the GFCI without a grounding connection.

The external plug-in tester only has access to what it can get to through the faceplate, so it cannot do the same test as the internal tester. It is therefore compelled to test it by connecting a resistor between the hot and the ground. So the external tester doesn't conduct a valid test without a ground. But that doesn't mean that the GFCI is not providing protection. It only means that the external tester is limited.

The internal tester is much better than the external tester.
 
  #10  
Old 10-04-04, 09:30 PM
shocked Brad
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She wanted to plug in one of those little indoor foutains it has a ground on the plug. But she of course wants in a certain side of the room which happens to be the only outlet in her house that is not grouded. We went to Wal-mart and bought a little grey Adapter that is meant for a grounded wire to be plugged in and the it has two prongs on the other side which is meant to go in to the wall socket with just two prongs. The guy at wallly world said to unscrew the plate screw and plug the adatper in and then put the screw back in through the little green ring on the adatper. When I unscrewed the plate in was broken and crumbled and its old so the with the plate came out the little part thats visable from the outside and on the inside was two brackets with the one screw on each side and the two wire conned to the appropriate side.
 
  #11  
Old 10-05-04, 05:26 AM
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If this house was built in 1950 then it is ikely that none of the general purpose receptacles are grounded. If this is the case then it is likely that even the three prong receptacles installed are not grounded.

before using any device that requires a grounded receptacle you should either install a GFCI receptacle (or otherwise provide GFCI protection at the rceptacle) or properly ground the receptacle.

Do not neglect this advice. An improperly grounded receptacle can kill someone. This is nothing to ignore or take lightly.
 
  #12  
Old 10-05-04, 08:37 AM
shocked Brad
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I am not taking this lightly but she has lived there for 20 years and passed inspection when she moved in. We have been plugging grounded things in that house for at least 20 years. Someone tell me what does a ground do?

Whats the difference between having a two prong outlet installed and using the adapter and have a 3 prong outlet in and not using the adapter?
 
  #13  
Old 10-05-04, 09:25 AM
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The adapters you are talking about only provide a ground if the screw provides a ground. This is only the case if the receptacle is grounded, usually via the box. If there is no ground then the adapters do nothing except enable you to get power to the electrical device.

A three prong outlet that is not grounded (ie is open) provides no ground protection, so is no different than using an adapter.

The main reason for a ground is for protection. Appliances that have a metal case of any sort either must be double insulated or have the case grounded. The ground provides a means of causing a short and tripping the circuit breaker if the hot wire accidently contacts the metal frame. Without the ground the metal frame becomes energized and someone touching the frame and a grounded object, such as a water pipe will receive a shock that could be deadly.

A secondary use for a ground is for certain types of electronic equipment. Surge protectors, for example, use the ground to safely route any power surge away from whatever you have plugged in.
 
  #14  
Old 10-05-04, 09:26 AM
shocked Brad
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Ok if doesn't mind awnsering the above question I would appreicate it. But I talked to the fellows at lowes again and told them the same story and it was a different guy that agrees with you guys. He asked for the guys name last night that handed me a three hole outlet and said just hook it up. He said that If I had done that I "would have gotten the **** shocked right out of me" his words. So I have to make a trip up there today to get a two hole outlet that they have a few of In stock he said he was holding one in his hand and waiting for me to come get it. My question is to you guys would this be the safe one right the two holer. When I do get it will it hook up easy like the three holer would? When I hook up the two holer other than installing one I turn the circuit back on It will be safe right?

Thanks a lot guys
 
  #15  
Old 10-05-04, 09:55 AM
shocked Brad
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hey racratf thanks for anwesering the above queston if you get a chance I noticed your still online I asked some more questions we must hav posted only a minute apart.

I know a few people that have used those adapters and didn't get shocked will I?
 
  #16  
Old 10-05-04, 10:07 AM
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The two hole receptacle will hook up just like the three hole receptacle. You put the black (hot) wire on one of the brass screws and the white (return) wire on on of the silver screws. Use the screws, do not use the backstab connections.

As for the adapter. Using the adapter will not cause you get shocked and will not create a situation where a shock is possible. A shock will only be possible if a problem occurs in the appliance and the case is not grounded.
 
  #17  
Old 10-05-04, 10:12 AM
shocked Brad
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OK THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH It is very possible one of you if not all of you have saved my life quite litterally. See grandma just has one of those indoor foutains she only plugs it in every now and then It wont be on all the time or anything.
 
  #18  
Old 10-05-04, 04:52 PM
shocked Brad
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Well Guys Dropped It In Just You Guys Said And It Works Like I Said Thanks Guys
 
  #19  
Old 10-07-04, 08:16 AM
Chris S27
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OK, Now I'm nervous...

I just recently purchased a home built in 1954. Many of the wall outlets were of the 2-prong variety. I replaced a good number with 3-prong, grounded outlets. How do i know if this was proper to do or not. I'm sure I've missed it somewhere above.

Any additional help would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 
  #20  
Old 10-07-04, 08:38 AM
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First a question. When you replaced the receptacles, did you have a ground wire to connect to the ground screw on the receptacle?

Next use a good tester. Test for voltage between the hot and the ground on the receptacle. You can do this with a two wire tester, or with a three wire plug in tester.

Finally, open an outlet and test inside. Test for voltage between the hot wire and the metal box.

If you get no voltage on any of these tests then you have no ground.

My suspicion is that you have created a very unsafe situation, and that you should replace all the receptacles you incorrectly installed.
 
  #21  
Old 10-07-04, 08:42 AM
Chris S27
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Originally Posted by racraft
First a question. When you replaced the receptacles, did you have a ground wire to connect to the ground screw on the receptacle?

Next use a good tester. Test for voltage between the hot and the ground on the receptacle. You can do this with a two wire tester, or with a three wire plug in tester.

Finally, open an outlet and test inside. Test for voltage between the hot wire and the metal box.

If you get no voltage on any of these tests then you have no ground.

My suspicion is that you have created a very unsafe situation, and that you should replace all the receptacles you incorrectly installed.

Let me clarify by saying that my father did most of the work. He's the more handy and I figured he knew what he was doing. When you say "did i have a ground wire to connect", how do i know which was the ground wire? Excuse my lack of knowledge...but I'm very new to electrical stuff. If there was NO ground wire, how many wires would there be to connect to screws?

And when you say an "unsafe" situation...can you clarify more?
 
  #22  
Old 10-07-04, 09:17 AM
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120 volts ac requires two wires. These two wires are a hot wire and a return, or neutral, wire. generally these wires are sheathed in black (hot) and white (neutral).

Ground wires are either bare wires or wires sheathed in green.

A new receptacle generally has four screw terminals, two on each side. They are connected by a small piece of metal, which can be broken off for special applications. The screws for the hot wire(s) are brass. The screws fot ehe nrutral wires are silver. At one end of the receptacle will be a ground screw. This screw is painted green.

The 120 volt cables running through a home will have at least two insulated wires, a hot and a return. If the wires are new and sometimes if they are old they will also have a ground wire.
 
  #23  
Old 10-07-04, 09:35 AM
Chris S27
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Originally Posted by racraft
120 volts ac requires two wires. These two wires are a hot wire and a return, or neutral, wire. generally these wires are sheathed in black (hot) and white (neutral).

Ground wires are either bare wires or wires sheathed in green.

A new receptacle generally has four screw terminals, two on each side. They are connected by a small piece of metal, which can be broken off for special applications. The screws for the hot wire(s) are brass. The screws fot ehe nrutral wires are silver. At one end of the receptacle will be a ground screw. This screw is painted green.

The 120 volt cables running through a home will have at least two insulated wires, a hot and a return. If the wires are new and sometimes if they are old they will also have a ground wire.
OK, so in most cases there were definitely only 2 wires. I spoke to my father, he said some had ground wires, which he connected, some did not.

What steps shoudl I take now? He seemed unphased by my new found concern over this. He said, if it was two prong, we would just use an adapter plug, and nobody ever uses the ground wire when they use those..

I need to upgrade my service to 200amp. Maybe I should consider redoing all the wiring at that point, or at least grounding them all?

thanks
 
  #24  
Old 10-07-04, 09:42 AM
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Your father is wrong, and that mistake could kill someone.

You would do wise to study up on this and have your father do the same. Ignorance kills many people every year.

As I said, verify that the receptacles are not grounded. When you find an ungrounded receptacle replace it with a two prong receptacle. If you do find that the receptacles are grounded then you should investigate whether the ground is legal and safe or illegal (bootleg) and unsafe.

Your other options are to protect the circuits with GFCI protection, but that is certainly more involved and creates it's own headaches.

Remember, leaving things as they are could easily kill someone.
 
  #25  
Old 10-07-04, 09:52 AM
Chris S27
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Originally Posted by racraft
Remember, leaving things as they are could easily kill someone.
EASILY? Can you explain this to me in detail please. In what scenario are we talking about a life threatening situation?

All of the outlets in question are in main living spaces, bedrooms, living room etc. Not kitchen or bathrooms where there is water hazard.
 
  #26  
Old 10-07-04, 10:04 AM
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Chris,

This subject has come up numerous times on this forum just in the last couple of months or so.

An open ground poses little danger unless the electrical device in use needs a ground. Devices with three prong plugs on them need a ground.

The purpose of a ground is to provide a return current path in the event that an electrical device malfunctions and the case becomes energized. Without a proper ground someone touching the case of the device would subject themselves to a shock, which could kill them. This happens to people every year.

A bootleg ground means that the ground wire in a circuit will become a current carrying conductor. This means that someone touching a grounded appliance could be shocked, and could die from that shock.

Even if all the grounds are open (which doesn't sound likely from your last post), and even if you don't have any devices in use that need a ground, you set up the possibility that someone will plus something in that does need a ground. It might be you (either forgetting that there is no ground or just doing it for a minute or two), or it may be someone else who does not know that there is no ground. This mistake could kill you or them.

This is not sopmething to ignore or to make light of. People die each and every year from incorrectly grounded receptacles and the problems they cause.

The bet thing is to do it right the first time. It sounds like it's too late for that in your case. The second best thing is to fix the problem once you realize that it is a problem.

For your sake, for your family's sake and for the sake of enyone entering your house now and in the future, please fix the problem.
 
  #27  
Old 10-07-04, 10:13 AM
Chris S27
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Bob, for what it's worth....I don't think I've been "making light" of anything here. Hence my extreme concern. Luckily I know this stuff now, and I'm a single guy in my own home, so I will take precautions until I have an electrician come in and look at it.

What about using a surge protector in an ungrounded outlet. Does this offer any measure of protection against shock hazard?

Come to think of it, the surge protector is the only 3 prong item that I plug into a 3 prong switch. I only wanted to make the changes in the even that i did need more 3 prong access.
 
  #28  
Old 10-07-04, 10:14 AM
Chris S27
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Also Bob, just to make sure I'm clear... Plugging a two prong device into a 3 prong (ungrounded) outlet....there is no problem with this correct?

thanks!
 
  #29  
Old 10-07-04, 10:53 AM
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I didn't mean to imply that you weren't taking this seriously. Indeed you have gone further than most people do on this subject.

Using a two prong plug device in an open ground three slot receptacle does not present a problem.

A surge suppressor won't work without a ground. The surge suppressor uses the ground wire to dissipate the surge. Without a ground there is no place for the surge to go.

If you do need one or two receptacles to be grounded you can add a ground wire for those receptacles. Simply run an appropriate ground wire (green and the right gauge, either 14 or 12 gauge) from the your panel to the receptacle. I did this in my own house. My downstairs is original wiring, with no grounds except for the kitchen and bathroom, which have both been rewired. I needed grounds for the entertainment center and for the computer, so I added them.
 
  #30  
Old 10-07-04, 11:31 AM
Chris S27
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I was just talking to a friend bob. He said it is possible that the ground wire runs through the house, and the metal electrical boxes act as the ground. Is this accurate?

He advised going to home depot and getting this outlet tester like device, which plugs in and indicates if wiring is correct and if grounded!
 
  #31  
Old 10-07-04, 01:04 PM
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Much earlier in our discussion I suggested that you do the testing you are describing.

If it indicates no ground then you have no ground, or at least it is not connected to ahything. If it indicates a ground then you have to make sure that you have a real ground, not a boot leg ground.

You may have a ground. The metal boxes in the walls may very well be grounded. if this is the case then you need to connect a ground wire from the metal box to the ground screw on the receptacle.

Do you know whether your wiring is in any type of metal conduit or not? Do you know if your wires have a separate ground wire in the cable?
 
  #32  
Old 10-07-04, 01:34 PM
Chris S27
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Originally Posted by racraft
Much earlier in our discussion I suggested that you do the testing you are describing.

If it indicates no ground then you have no ground, or at least it is not connected to ahything. If it indicates a ground then you have to make sure that you have a real ground, not a boot leg ground.

You may have a ground. The metal boxes in the walls may very well be grounded. if this is the case then you need to connect a ground wire from the metal box to the ground screw on the receptacle.

Do you know whether your wiring is in any type of metal conduit or not? Do you know if your wires have a separate ground wire in the cable?
What is a boot leg ground?

The metal receptacle touching the grounded box isn't sufficient for grounding? I would still need a ground wire?
 
  #33  
Old 10-07-04, 01:41 PM
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The short answer is that you need the ground wire.

A bootleg ground is an illegal and unsafe ground connection. Some people stupidly connect the ground screw to the white return wire and think they have made a safe ground. They haven't.
 
  #34  
Old 10-07-04, 07:58 PM
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This is a common misconception that many people, even some of the fellow electricians I work with, seem to think... that just having the receptacle touch the metal box will provide a sufficient ground. In most cases, yes it will work, however it is not the correct and legal way to go about things. Problems such as the recept coming loose or the box oxidizing over the years in damp locations can cause a once good metal to metal ground to fail or become less dependable. Also, you must make sure the metal boxes are in fact grounded. There are many ways a house can be wired... it can be all metal conduit with metal boxes, plastic boxes with romex, metal boxes with MC cable, (BX) or any combination of that. If you have metal boxes with MC cable or Metal Conduit (EMT), than yes you do have a ground, however the NEC also wants you to have a ground wire, not just the metal pathway. Especially in a setting such as a house, that has all wood framing and no metal studs, in most cases anyways, there is a chance that path can fail, such as a loose connector or coupling to broken MC cable sheathing to anything else. That is why ground wires have became part of the NEC.

Anyways, as Racraft, John Nelson, and everyone else in this forum are trying to make a point of is it is imperative you have some sort of ground or change to all 2-prong recepts or GFCI's. By doing things like a flyby nighter, not only are you endangering your property and your life, you are also endangering the lives of any future occupants. That is also a misconception of many people, they do stuff wrong and figure what the hell, I live here and I know about it and how it works, so who cares.... Than they move or die or have an electrician come out to do something or whatever and suddenly, their screw up becomes a major hazard to others that never even knew about it. Electricity it deadly and cannot be taken lightly. Us electricians, as much as we hate it, know the NEC is there for a reason, and undermining it does nothing but cause problems down the road. Don't take this lightly, and if you need help, get the advice of your local inspector or an electrician, they will be able to help you out.

Best of luck,
Paul
 
  #35  
Old 10-08-04, 07:13 AM
Chris S27
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I'm not sure why I keep getting slammed with comments like "fly by nighter" and the like. If that was in reference to me. It seems this topic hits a nerve with electricians. I'm new to all of this, hence my posts on this forum to gather knowledge on the subject. You'll all be happy to know I've already spoken to an electrician that I use, and he'll be at my house on Monday to check things out. I plan to make it right, one way or another.

Thanks for all the info.
 
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