Replacing recptacles

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  #1  
Old 10-24-04, 02:22 PM
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Red face Replacing recptacles

I need to replace 3 receptacles with GFIs. One is inside and is a 3 prong, the other two are outside and are only 2 prong.

The man in Home Depot says it doesn't matter that the outdoor ones are only 2 prongs is this true? He also said GFIs only come in the 3 pronged version.

What happens if I plug a 3 pronged cord into one of those 2 outlets?

He actually said you could replace all the receptacles in your house with the 3 pronged ones and it wouldn't really matter, but again, what happens if you plug a 3 pronged cord into what used to be a 2 pronged outlet?

Right now if I have a 3 pronged applicance (like a vacuum) I use one of those 3 pronged adaptors.

(And yes, I am a "girl" <sigh>)
 
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  #2  
Old 10-24-04, 02:30 PM
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You can replace a two prong receptacle with a GFI or GFI protected receptacle if you put the "No Equipment Ground" sticker on the device. There are several posts on this forum about the two/three prong issue.
 
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Old 10-24-04, 03:02 PM
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The third prong on a receptacle is a ground. It is a safety ground. Under normal conditions it does not carry any electricity. It's purpose is to provide a path for electrical current in the event of a problem in the appliance. If, for example, the hot wire on your refrigerator contacts the metal frame of the refrigerator, the current will immediately flow through the third wire to your main panel, and will trip the breaker.

The only two conditions in which it is safe to replace your two prong receptacles with three prong receptacles is when the receptacle is properly grounded, or when GFCI protection is provided. The GFCI protection can be at the receptacle itself (using a GFCI receptacle) , or it can be upstream from the receotacle using a receptacle or a breaker at the main panel. If there is no ground and you use GFCI protection, then you msut use a sticker stating "No Equipment Ground" at each of the three prong receptacles.

If you do use GFCIs with no equipment ground then don't use surge supressors or computers on the circuit. The surge supressors won;t work properly with no ground, and the computer may experience funny behavior.

As for those little adapters you use, my advice is to throw those out. They only work if the receptacle is propelry grounded and if you make sure that the little wire or tab is attached under the screw, something most people don;t do. If the receptacle is properly grounded then install three prong receptacles. If the receptacle is not grounded then leave the two prong receptacles in place.
 
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Old 10-28-04, 07:54 PM
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Red face But

I understand now, but, if I leave all the two pronged outlets in place and throw out my adaptors, how can I use my vacuum? (and dog drier)

Would you recommend my swapping out the outlets I use for the vacuum in each room with GFI's? (I have no idea how to figure out which outlets are "downstream" from the others)

Sure would be cheaper than rewiring the house.

Thanks for your advice,

Maureen
 
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Old 10-29-04, 04:51 AM
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Yes, I recommend either installing GFCI receptacles where you need three prong receptacles or having those receptacles properly grounded. For your vaccuum and drier GFCIs are fine.

Determining downstream receptacles is fairly straight forward, but takes some time. The process involves removing one receptacle at a time from a circuit and then testing the other receptacles to see if they still have power. Any receptacles that no longer have power are downstream from the one that is removed. You can speed up the process by only disconnecting a hot wire instead of completely removing the receptacle.

The reason that this takes time is that you have to make repeated trips back and forth to the circuit breaker panel. You need the power off to remove a receptacle, and then you need the power back on to test.
 
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Old 10-29-04, 11:57 AM
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Lightbulb

Thanks, all this REALLY helps.

Maureen
 
  #7  
Old 11-07-04, 02:04 PM
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I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack. You are all probably laughing because this should be so simple. I replaced the grounded receptacle in the utility room with a GFI no problem (except the ground wire was 1/2" too short, necessitating a 20 mile trip to get a couple of inches of wire). So I patted myself on the back for that one.

Outside, I discovered despite there being a 2 pronged receptacle, the outlet was actually grounded. There were two cables (there is another receptacle the other side of the front steps I haven't touched that one yet) each cable had a ground wire.

The instructions said if there was a ground screw in the box to attach the other wire. There was none (the wires were not attached to anything, nor were they capped). I attached the one wire to the ground screw on the receptacle and just capped the other and left it. Is that ok?

Actually, is there anything else that can be done (maybe electrical tape) because the box is so small that the cap made it an unbelievable effort to get the wires back in there.

This outlet works fine, and I was extremely careful to follow the instructions about identifying the line and load wires and attach them as indicated. BUT, the other outlet does not work.

I attached all the wires by side screws, twice I found that a wire had come loose (that cap and small size of the box I guess) and thought that was the whole problem, but all the wires are now attached and the second outlet still doesn't work.

My confusion now is that instructions show inserting a wire into the back of the receptacle, but doesn't say under what circumstances you would use the back instead of the side screw.

It also says "For back wire, insert bare wire fully and tighten terminal clamp on conductor only" Doesn't say what a conductor is.

So, questions:
1. Does that second ground wire have to be connected somewhere else since there's no grounding terminal in the box?
2. If it doesn't, does it have to be capped with that plastic (pain in the neck) cap?
3. Do two wires (or even one) HAVE to go into the back of the receptacle instead of the on the side screws?
4. What is a conductor?

Thanks again for your advice and patience......
 
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Old 11-07-04, 02:19 PM
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1. All ground wires in a box need to be connected together, connected to the ground screw on any switch or receptacle, and connected to the box, if it is metal. However, if the wire is not grounded properly from wherever it originated, properly connecting them serves no purpose.

2. Putting a wire nut on ground wires is not necessary if there is enough wire to wrap them securely.

3. It sounds like your GFCI has the fairly new style connection. The connection is made by two metal plates being tightened together with the wire between them. In this case the wire should be attached here, and not around the screw.

4. By conductor they mean the actual copper wire, and not the plastic black or white insulation around the wire. Make certain that only metal wire (conductor) is behind the connection plates, not plastic insulation.
 
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