Looking to replace a strange, old outlet

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Old 12-12-17, 05:45 AM
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Looking to replace a strange, old outlet

The outlet below is sitting on top of a built-in desk/shelving/drawer unit against a hallway wall.

It's not grounded, but the bigger problem is that it's also not polarized, so I can't plug in most modern two-prong plugs.

I'm considering replacing it, but I'm not sure with what. I can't access the gangbox (see second picture) so I can't wire in a ground. My thought would be a GFCI (adding the "no equipment ground" label, but I'm not familiar with a GFCI product that's self-contained (i.e., in its own box) like this.

Any suggestions?
 
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Old 12-12-17, 06:07 AM
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There are very few GFCI packaged inside an enclosure but you can buy an enclosure and GFCI outlet separately.
 
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Old 12-12-17, 07:48 AM
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What you have there is a surface mount triple receptacle. They were popular in the 1950s and '60s for homeowners looking to add a receptacle or two. More often as not they were connected using ordinary lamp cord, as is yours, to a nearby receptacle.

Totally NON-code and often a fire hazard as well. I strongly suggest you find the other end of the lamp cord supplying this junk and remove the entire thing. Adding a new receptacle with proper wiring is generally not that difficult.
 
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Old 12-12-17, 08:03 AM
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What you have there is a surface mount triple receptacle. They were popular in the 1950s and '60s for homeowners looking to add a receptacle or two. More often as not they were connected using ordinary lamp cord, as is yours, to a nearby receptacle.

Totally NON-code and often a fire hazard as well. I strongly suggest you find the other end of the lamp cord supplying this junk and remove the entire thing. Adding a new receptacle with proper wiring is generally not that difficult.

The problem is that I can't reach the other end without dismantling the whole bookcase/desk/drawer system, which is bolted to and covers most of the wall--which would mean pretty much destroying it to get to wherever that wire goes to. I've replaced receptacles with properly wired ones before; I just can't access this one at all.
 
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Old 12-12-17, 08:25 AM
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It has to be removed, ruin bookcase or not. The lamp cord itself is totally verboten.
 
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Old 12-12-17, 09:13 AM
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If it's bolted in place - can't you just unbolt it, pull it out, do what needs to be done and reinstall the bookcase?
Short of that it shouldn't be overly difficult to cut the back of the bookcase keeping your cut lines at or just under a shelf. When you reinstall that piece it might take a thin piece of molding to hide the cut.
 
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Old 12-12-17, 11:39 AM
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Not just a bookcase: it's a built-in dresser (2x2 drawer), desk, and bookcase. "Bolted" was an inexact term: it's basically installed like kitchen cabinets are. So removing it would be like taking out 10 feet of kitchen cabinets. I have no idea where the cord goes behind the whole thing.
 
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Old 12-12-17, 12:25 PM
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What is on the opposite side of the book case? You may need to make small view hole/s on the back side of the wall the bookcase is against.to resolve this.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-12-17 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 12-13-17, 05:49 AM
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Hi,pull the drawers out and have a look in behind , you may be able to make some cuts in there,do what it takes to remove that HAZARD!
Geo
 
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Old 12-13-17, 07:55 AM
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At the very least I'd suggest just not using it -- it's much less of a hazard with no load on it. As for power needs in the cabinet, look for somewhere you can drill a strategic hole into a stud space and pull in a new circuit -- effectively abandon the old one. Failing either of these options, replacing the breaker on this circuit with a CAFCI breaker will reduce the risk of using this receptacle. In any case do not put any kind of large load on this -- a lamp or phone charger is fine; heater, laser printer, vacuum cleaner are are all no go.
 
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Old 12-13-17, 08:26 AM
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To add to my previous post if there is a room on the other side of the bookcase you can probably access the old receptacle behind the bookcase from the back. It will involve some Sheetrock work and cutting loose the old box to access it. Once the box is free the lamp cord can be removed. The old box remounted facing the room with a blank cover on the old box.

A small hole in a room behind the bookcase could be used to feed new NM-b to a surface mounted (Wiremold) box and receptacle on the bookcase.
 
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Old 12-15-17, 01:23 PM
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The wall unit is against an outside wall.

I pulled out the drawers of the side where the wires presumably lead and drilled a few holes in the back, then fed through a USB borescope attached to my laptop. I found the wire, but couldn't trace it they leads--the space between the back of the unit and the wall gets VERY narrow about 18" above the floor, and I lost it there. I have an older, lower-res borescope somewhere--it's head is narrower than the one I used--so if I can dig it up I can get it in and see if I can trace where it goes to. There are lots of boards and shims back there getting in the way.
 
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