Ungrounded triplex receptacle replacement questions

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Old 08-24-15, 05:46 AM
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Ungrounded triplex receptacle replacement questions

Bedroom has un-grounded triplex receptacles and top plugs are switched. Want to replace with grounded duplex. Thinking I could bring a ground to the wall switch and re-purpose the red switched wire as a ground. I would of course tape it green to re-identify. Thoughts?
 
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Old 08-24-15, 06:05 AM
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Is it Romex or BX? Are the boxes metal or plastic?
 
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Old 08-24-15, 06:21 AM
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The most recommended method of improving protection aginst electrocution is to install ground fault interrupted protection, typically as the first receptacle in the daisy chain. This is actually superior to providing a grounded circuit with no GFCI protection. However the GFCI does not improve grounding for ham radio or other radio reception purposes and will not support surge suppressors.

The equipment grounding conductor has to go all the way back to the panel. The BX cable sheath does not qualify as part of the EGC path unless it has a bare wire or metal strip running lengthwise inside, outside any paper lining inside. The BX cable sheath cannot serve as EGC when used with plastic boxes because there is no bonding from one section of BX to the next.

The red wire may not be repurposed as an EGC although I have heard stories where someone covered the entire wire end with green tape as opposed to putting just a band of green tape on it.

It is permissible to install a new, separately run, EGC exactly, approximately, or vaguely following the circuit conductors back to the pahel. Should this EGC first reach a fat ground wire (grounding electrode conductor) running from the panel to a ground rod or to the main water pipe close to where the latter exits the house underground, the EGC may end and be clamped onto the GEC there. This will support surge suppressors but does not bring the branch circuit up to code for code purposes and ability to be extended. IMHO the separately run EGC may be tapped to or daisy chain through multiple receptacles and fixtures on the same branch circuit.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-24-15 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 08-24-15, 07:59 AM
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Pulpo, Metal boxes, Romex

AllanJ, thanks for reply, does code keep me from re-purposing red wire?
 
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Old 08-24-15, 08:32 AM
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NEC 250.119 -- Equipment grounding conductors of #6 or smaller size, if not bare, must have "a continuous outer finish that is either green or green with one or more yellow stripes."

It may be the inspector's final decision in your case since the entire exposed part of the red wire covered with green tape is quite similar to some brands of wire where the "green" wire comes covered with a layer of white insulation in turn covered with a thin layer of green and perhaps in turn covered with a thin transparent layer.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 08:42 AM
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The red may be used as part of the required switch controlled lighting outlet.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 10:13 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I should have made my intention more clear. I no longer want switched receptacles. The wall switch will instead be used for a ceiling fixture that is on a different circuit (always hot pull chain switched ceiling fan) by fishing a switch leg to it but that's a different story. I was just hoping that since the red will no longer be used, I could use it as the EGC for the new receptacles as it will no longer be used as a hot and will otherwise just be capped off at the wall switch and each receptacle. Wrap the entire length of the (six total) red wires in green, drop a EGC into the switch box, make the connections and viola. Sure would save some drywall, drilling, fishing...

Again, I appreciate the replies. Perhaps I should talk to our local inspector as we intend on selling in the next couple of years and want to make sure everything is legit.
 

Last edited by rixdafix; 08-24-15 at 10:54 AM.
  #8  
Old 08-24-15, 03:07 PM
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Just got off the phone with our city inspector and he said as long as I wrap the red in green I can use it as an EGC since I'll no longer be using it as a switched hot. I personally never cared for having the top of those receptacles switched in the first place but that third wire is going to come in handy now. Also confirmed I can tie into any EGC circuit that goes back to the same panel as the circuit I want to ground. Only one panel in our house so no problem. Gonna save me a bunch of time. Just thought I would update based on what our local inspector said. Thanks again for the input everyone.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 03:35 PM
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Romex has a bare ground running through it. I don't understand why the red wire has to be used as a ground.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 03:49 PM
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Romex has a bare ground running through it.
Not true if it was manufactured before grounding was required. The fact the receptacles were not grounded indicates an installation before NM-b commonly had a ground wire.

Note the breaker box needs to be checked to see if it has a bunch of #16 (yes #16) bare wires connected to the neutral bar. If so the metal box may be grounded. During the transition from ungrounded NM-b to NM-b with ground some NM-b was sold with a ground wire one size smaller. Typically that ground wire was connected to the outside of the box.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 03:57 PM
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Grounding for receptacles was not required when the early NM was made so there was no conductor in the cable. Later a smaller grounding conductor was added to the cables, but the code still did not require grounding many places. It was common to see it wrapped around the cable and left under the clamp or outside the box.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 04:10 PM
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During the transition from ungrounded NM-b to NM-b with ground some NM-b was sold with a ground wire one size smaller. Typically that ground wire was connected to the outside of the box.
I want to say the period of the reduced size EGC in the NM cable was probably in the '60s or very early '70s. NM cable with no ground wire was still available up through the very early '80s, not really so long ago. 10-3 Plain (Without Grd) and 8-3 Plain was a staple for many supply houses as was 14-2, 12-2, 12-3, 14-3, etc.
 
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Old 08-24-15, 05:06 PM
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Our house was built in 1963 and has nm 14/2 and 14/3 with NO ground. I know of the 16 awg grounds you refer to Ray2047 as my Mom's old house had those and they hadn't even been connected to anything. Alas, my wiring has no ground wire. I know I could simply replace with new ungrounded receps or install GFCI at beginning of daisy chain but now that I've confirmed that I can use the red wire for a ground by simply re-identifying it green and connecting appropriately, well, my job just got easier. I mean that wire would no longer be used anyway and it IS already present in every box where there is a switched (not for long) receptacle.
 
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