Need help with an old outlet ground wiring

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Old 07-11-17, 11:09 AM
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Question Need help with an old outlet ground wiring

We are getting new appliances tomorrow and will be moving our old fridge to basement. Today I was moving some furniture around the outlet where it will be connected and I realized some strange wiring.

Before I get into it, this is a house from 1950s, the outlet in question is a single outlet in its own circuit (the wire comes from the electrical panel directly into this outlet and no other wire besides the two green wires leave the outlet). This is in basement where it used to be a finished basement but it was converted to unfinished due to flooding. I dont know the history of the outlet, we bought the house 2 years ago.

What's strange is, 1 standard wire goes into the box, 2 smaller wires leave. The smaller wires are both green and they are cut/terminated at the ceiling. The incoming white wire's ground terminal is connected to where the screw of the outlet box goes in. I'm guessing the green wires are the ground wires of the outlet.

Please see pictures






My questions are as follows:

- Is this outlet safe to use with our fridge (it's a 20amp circuit)
- Is the outlet properly grounded
- Should I leave the green wires in place or remove them? If leave them in place, do I need to put wire caps on them or leaving them exposed is fine

Thanks
 
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Old 07-11-17, 03:26 PM
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Should I leave the green wires in place or remove them?
Why leave that mess in there? At least get them out of the box. If you're feeling lazy just cut them below the staple and pull the pieces out of the clamp. To be extra neat, remove the empty NM clamp and put a knockout seal in the hole. They're cheap.

I'd then pull out and salvage as much of the green wire up by the joist as possible to use for the next items:

Is the outlet properly grounded
No. As pictured, it's not grounded at all. The very act of removing the cover caused everything to fall apart and nothing is grounded. Not such a good thing.

Use the recycled green wire and make a few pigtails which all connect to the existing ground wire in there. One of them should be attached to the box such that it will not fly off when the box is opened up. You can either use one of those little green clips (inexpensive), or find/tap a threaded hole in the box and attach the ground with a green screw. Attach the other two pigtails to the receptacles.

Were you not planning on installing a GFCI here? To be code-compliant, you must. Of course if it trips, you probably won't notice it until all your food in this basement fridge is spoiled. If you choose not to install a GFCI, well that's between you and your creator. In that case I'd park the fridge in front of the receptacle so nobody can get to it. Or change it to a single simplex receptacle only, but that's still not code compliant with no GFCI.

If you go with the GFCI, you only need one GFCI and then the other side can be a plain decora receptacle fed off the load side of the GFCI. You'll need a new cover plate as well. Those aren't always easy to find with rounded sides like that. Oh, and your box might be too shallow for the GFCI, in which case you'll also need an extender ring.

While you're in there, rotate the NM clamp on the right so it matches the orientation of the white cable and tighten it down. It doesn't look like it's doing much good the way it is now.

By the way, what's that white wire stapled to the joist up there? Looks too stiff to be telephone cable.
 
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Old 07-11-17, 04:19 PM
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I apologize but just reading your post I had to do some googling to understand what you were talking about. This is just to show you my lack of knowledge on this not commenting on how you have explained the solution In plain english, you are suggesting:

- I remove the green wire all together
- I need to cut 3 small pieces of the ground wire and make 1 pig tail where the 3 green wires connect to the ground wire that is coming in. 1 of the new wires will go the green ground clip, 2 of them will go the receptacles like below (this is a picture of another outlet in my basement).



As far as being GFCI, I have no idea what that means or that entails. I am all for following code and doing the right thing. I am not an electrician, all I m trying to do is to set this up so I can connect my fridge there.
 
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Old 07-11-17, 04:41 PM
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The wiring in that last picture is also incorrect.

When you use a metal box.... it needs to be connected to ground. If you were to use the existing receptacles.... leave the wires connected to the receptacles. Cut them 6" long. Attach both to the bare ground wire coming in on the NM-b cable. Add another short piece of green wire and connect it to a screw in the back of the box. They make green ground screws which will match the small hole in the back of the box.

Code now requires a GFI protected receptacle in a wet or damp area. That includes basements. You could change that to a single device cover and a GFI receptacle.
 
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Old 07-11-17, 04:47 PM
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I have been reading up on GFCI, just a quick question, why don't I just remove this receptacle all together and install a single GFCI receptacle there? I dont really care I have 2 outlets vs 4. Isn't that less work/safer?
 
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Old 07-11-17, 05:48 PM
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I'm not sure why I cannot quote people, I dont have the option to quote, so I apologize if my posts are confusing.

Is GFCI safer/easier or leaving what's there right now? The other thing is, while that circuit is 20Amp and there is no other receptable are on it, I m not sure if the wire is a 12 ga or 14 ga. I read somewhere that GFCI outlets have to be on a 20Amp 12 ga wire?
 
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Old 07-12-17, 03:27 AM
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I'm not sure why I cannot quote people, I dont have the option to quote
Yeah, I can't quote people either in the normal manner. I think they removed that years back to cut down on people quoting entire posts to respond to one sentence. (I could be mistaken) You can manually paste something into your message and use the quote button on the far right of the toolbar to wrap quote tags around the selected text.

Yes, a GFCI is safer than what is there now. Easier? No, I wouldn't say easier. Even with a single GFCI you're still need to going to connect two short green wires in order to have it properly grounded.

If you go with a single GFCI rather than two receptacles you're going to be looking a bit harder for the cover plate / means of attachment for the single GFCI. Keeping in mind that the cover plate needs to cover the whole box, not just one side. If I was limited to parts from the hardware store, I'd probably just install a "mud ring" which will give you screw holes to attach the GFCI, and then I'd just slap on a plastic cover plate... half "blank" (filled), and the other side a rectangular cutout for the GFCI. I don't like using those metal cover plates where the devices attach to the plate itself, because you can't see where the wires are going when you squish everything back in there. And around here, I wouldn't be able to find one suitable for your purpose anyway, without a long drive to the supply house.

No, there's no requirement that GFCIs need to be on a 20A circuit. Buy a 15A GFCI. Try to get a low-profile one or whatever they call it (physically smaller) so things don't get crowded in the back of the box. You don't have much depth to work with. A deeper mud ring will help with that too.

That wire looks like 12ga to me. It might be printed on the insulation.
 
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Old 07-12-17, 11:23 AM
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When installing a GFI receptacle in a 4" square (1900) box.... it's certainly easier to use a deep box. The standard 1900 cover will work though.

For that application a 15A receptacle is fine.

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Old 07-12-17, 04:56 PM
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Taking a closer look at the wire, it is indeed 12-2. So I have decided to go with the 20amp GFCI route. I watched a very detailed video (see below) and I decided to do exactly the same. The video is below. I am also posting a picture of all the parts I bought. I am going to reuse the green wire for pigtailing the ground and I bought a standard romex nm-b 12/2 wire and I will make white/black pigtails out of that (did not want to buy stand alone white and black wires in rolls as they are more expensive and less useful for future projects). I bought a brand new box and cover. I think the new box has a place for attaching the green ground screw. Also instead of wire nuts, I am going to use those little sockets. I saw them in the video and they seem a lot more secure.

So I am basically going to take the entire thing apart, remove everything and leave the white main cable there and go from there. Let me know if the parts or my plan doesnt make sense and if there is something I should be careful about.

As a side note, I checked every single one of my outlets in basement (around 8 different receptacles) and except 2, they are all showing open ground. I guess its a project for me to convert them all to GFCI.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lx82nJjFG8

 
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Old 07-13-17, 04:15 PM
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Need some help. I have done everything like the video shows, got a new box, receptacles (one GFCI, one regular). When I turn on the breaker, I get a red light on GFCI and no power. What am I doing wrong?

The one on the right is GFCI. I used a socket thing to connect the ground to 3 other grounds. One goes to the green screw on the box, the other two goes to the receptacles.

The black wire goes to the brass of GFCI (the side WITHOUT the sticker)
The white wire goes to the silver of GFCI (the side WITHOUT the sticker)

The black jumper wires goes to the brass of GFCI where the sticker is and to the brass of the other receptacles
The white jumper wires goes to the silver of GFCI where the sticker is and to the silver of the other receptacles



 
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Old 07-13-17, 04:25 PM
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After turning the power on... you must press the RESET button in firmly.

When working with large devices like a GFI receptacle.... it's much easier to use deep boxes instead of shallow or standard depth ones.
 
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Old 07-13-17, 04:30 PM
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Thanks, I am so much happier now! It works

I have also realized the cover plate doesnt work Its not covering the receptacles and in fact, I think the box itself is too small. What do you suggest?
 
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Old 07-13-17, 06:40 PM
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After a wasted trip to HD only to realize (and embarrass myself) that the clips around the receptacles can be cut off/bent to fit in the box, I have a functional box and my fridge works. I'm very happy. Thanks everyone for your help.

I do have one question though, after clipping the 4 corner holes from the recepticles (4 on each), there were 2 more smaller top/bottom holes which I couldnt really cut but had to bend. Then I used the larger holes and the nuts that came with the cover. Did I do anything wrong?

I'm asking because I want to learn the right way as I will need to do the same thing in 8 other boxes.

 
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Old 07-13-17, 07:11 PM
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I used the larger holes and the nuts that came with the cover. Did I do anything wrong?
If it was wrong they wouldn't have included the nuts. No, did it corectly.
 
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Old 07-13-17, 07:25 PM
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You are just concerned about having to bend the extreme ends of the yoke slightly? I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Finished product looks quite nice! Well except for that empty NM clamp. Which may not be legal depending on your interpretation of "unused opening". Not really worth worrying about.

You might want to move the refrigerator plug to a different position. So you have a better chance of noticing the tripped GFCI before your beer gets warm and all of your stuff melts.
 
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Old 07-13-17, 07:28 PM
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Thank you so much for all the great info and advice You guys are great.

And yes I will definitely move the plug
 
 

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