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Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Old 12-04-2008, 08:23 AM
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Default Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Is it safe to convert a two prong outlet to a three prong GFCI outlet? I do not have the ground wire in the box.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:32 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

can't do it without a ground. Do you have old fabric wiring? where is the ground, the old days it was cut off short and wraped around a screw on the gang box. Look for it.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:34 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Yes I have the fabric wiring. So the ground should be back there?
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:39 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Not necessarily, I have fabric wiring and there is no ground. The wire consist of only two copper wires.

You can replace the outlet it self with a three prong outlet but it will not be grounded and you have to label each one as such by code.

If you are trying to do this for a particular outlet then you can just run a seperate ground wire for that outlet and run it back to the panel or to an exterior ground.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:40 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Is it BX cable? The one with the steel shielding around it? Like the bottom picture here?


If so, the BX steel shielding is clamped to the steel box where the wires come in, and provides the ground, so the box itself should be grounded. The green wire from the GFCI to the box SHOULD do the job. You should get one of those 3-prong neon-lamp outlet testers (cheap) which will tell you if it's OK, open ground, or polarity reversed. No homeowner should be without one.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

No it actually has fabric around it.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:46 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

I would suggest that if you can pull an new wire, than pull a new wire (2 plus a ground) and rewire with the GFCI that you want. If you can't pull a new wire for whatever reason, then you can't have GFCI, in that case the only reason to go to 3 prong is for convenience of pluging in a 3 prong appliance.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:52 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

The goal is to be able to safely plug in a three prong device. I have seen online that some suggest installing a GFCI in an outlet without a ground but labeling it ungrounded. I am trying to determine if this is actually safe.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:03 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

proine17 - 12/4/2008 6:52 AM

The goal is to be able to safely plug in a three prong device. I have seen online that some suggest installing a GFCI in an outlet without a ground but labeling it ungrounded. I am trying to determine if this is actually safe.
Sounds like our homes were built in the same era. I have considered this and some think that it is a good alternative. You will have to trace out each line in your home and place the GFCI outlet at the first outlet in each run if it is daisy chained. The wiring in my house has a junction box with lines running to each socket and would require a GFCI outlet for every outlet.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:13 AM
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Default RE: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

The National Electric Code permits the use of GFCI protection on an ungrounded circuit (e.g. a 2-prong or 'open
ground' 3-prong receptacle). The receptacle must be labeled indicating the lack of a grounding conductor. While
this method can reduce the risk of a fatal electrical shocks it does NOT reduce the overall risk of electrical
shocks. An electrical shock strong enough to trip a GFCI circuit is still very painful and could cause injury. An
ungrounded GFCI circuit also does not provide the surge and static protection offered by a properly grounded
circuit.

Where to Not Use GFCI Protection
A GFCI can trip due to surges during normal cycling of motor driven appliances. This is mostly an inconvenience,
however it can result in damage (food spoilage, flooding due to non-operational sump pump). If GFCI protection
is not used, then ensure that the appliance is properly grounded to reduce the risk of electrical shock. The
design of modern appliances and GFCI devices has reduced incidences of nuisance tripping.[*]Refrigerators and freezers[*]Sump pumps[*]Sewage ejector pumps[/list]
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:23 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Thanks that is what I was looking for!
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:49 AM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

I have an outlet in the garage in my Maryland house. One day I noticed there was water coming from under the bait freezer, and checked the outlet. It was dead. Checked with my neighborhood handyman (lives next door) and he said the outlet was wired to a GFCI somewhere in the house. Sure was! In a third-floor bathroom!! I gotta make a sign for the wall in the garage near the outlet, now.

BTW, it isn't good when a bait freezer starts to defrost!!
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:18 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

t3rockhall - 12/4/2008 9:49 AM

I have an outlet in the garage in my Maryland house. One day I noticed there was water coming from under the bait freezer, and checked the outlet. It was dead. Checked with my neighborhood handyman (lives next door) and he said the outlet was wired to a GFCI somewhere in the house. Sure was! In a third-floor bathroom!! I gotta make a sign for the wall in the garage near the outlet, now.

BTW, it isn't good when a bait freezer starts to defrost!!
Know your pain, although somethings can be done, they should not. I was rewiring a room for my girlfriend at the time and had turned off the breakers and tested everything. After getting shocked I found out that the electrician jumped the neutral from the neighboring room, why I do not know.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:32 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

bsmit24 - 12/4/2008 2:18 AM

I was rewiring a room for my girlfriend at the time and had turned off the breakers and tested everything. After getting shocked I found out that the electrician jumped the neutral from the neighboring room, why I do not know.
If you had used one of the testers below or the one t3rockhall is displaying before you got into the wires you would have known that there still was current there.



If anyone is going to buy an outlet tester they might as well buy the Ground Fault Receptacle Tester variety.
GFCI Tester & Circuit Tester
The circuit tester t3rockhall is showing in his thread above is not used to test GFI outlets / circuits.


proine17,

Leave your outlets/ circuit alone or add the third wire.

I don't know what your code is in your area, but what I know is an ungrounded GFI
outlet must be marked indicating such right on the outlet cover. An ungrounded GFI outlet will not give the person the same protection as a grounded GFI outlet. By
indicating the outlet is not properly protected the home owner is side stepping
liability issues. Without proper identification of an ungrounded GFI outlet the home
owner is dancing on eggshells.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

So those little $1.00 adapters that have three holes and two prongs that go between the cord and the socket aren't good enough?
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:12 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Garett - 12/4/2008 11:32 AM

bsmit24 - 12/4/2008 2:18 AM

I was rewiring a room for my girlfriend at the time and had turned off the breakers and tested everything. After getting shocked I found out that the electrician jumped the neutral from the neighboring room, why I do not know.
If you had used one of the testers below or the one t3rockhall is displaying before you got into the wires you would have known that there still was current there.
Yeah, I know but all I had in my truck was the little current/nocurrent light and was trying to finish up.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

Ditto Garett's excellent advice.

There are 2 primary reason for a 3rd prong on a outlet; prevent electrical shock (note the use of the word "prevent"), and reduce fire hazard. Not all appliances have 3 prong plugs. If you do not anticipate using an appliance with a 3rd prong, you don't need to wire/rewire anything. You will still have the same level of protection.

Only appliances that do not have a grounded cover require the 3rd prong. Example, most toaster and blenders today have plastic shells. Plastic cannot conduct electricity so toasters and blenders typically do not require a 3rd prong. A washing machine is a big metal box that definitely can conduct current, will have a 3rd prong. The idea is that, if for any reason the appliance's path to ground was interrupted, the shell of the appliance could become 'hot' and if you touch it you could be providing the path to ground. Zap! But for you to get zapped there needs to be a path to ground with you in the middle. So if you touched a hot appliance while standing on hardwood flooring you would probably never know something was wrong since there wouldn't be a path to ground. No zap even though the appliance's shell is hot.

Because we don't live in houses with dirt floors or damp surroundings that could provide a path to ground, the 3rd prong is almost never necessary. It is required just in case. But if you need it, and it isn't there, you have a world of trouble on your hands. You definitely need a 3rd prong for outdoors applications and anywhere there is water; bathroom, kitchen, laundry room... In those areas you want ground fault protection, too. In living areas (bedroom, hallways, living room, etc) there is more need for the protection that arc fault provides than there is for ground fault or a 3rd prong.

You can think about where that wall plug is and what you will be using it for. Maybe you don't need to add that 3rd prong after all.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

bayrunner16 - 12/5/2008 5:06 AM

So those little $1.00 adapters that have three holes and two prongs that go between the cord and the socket aren't good enough?
Yes and no. See my post above.
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

I went with the ungrounded GFCI with the label on it. It is one outlet that is not near water, I have relocated my home office to this room, and need a three prong for my computer. The outlet is oriented horizontally with quarter round directly below it. Making it impossible to use a 2 to 3 adapter or at least the three outlet version that I was able to find in the hardware store. I appreciate all of the advice!
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: Converting a two prong outlet to a three prong outlet

bayrunner16 - 12/4/2008 4:06 AM

So those little $1.00 adapters that have three holes and two prongs that go between the cord and the socket aren't good enough?
My answer is based off of I live on the north side of the ditch. If I want to buy one, I have to go south of the ditch because up here they are illegal. They are illegal to sell and use. If a fire inspector or electrical inspector were to see one in a home being used chances are the only thing a home owner would get is a strong tongue lashing and told to have a qualified electrician install a proper circuit. Either of the two inspectors would unplug the device from the outlet and in most cases are they will not take the adapter with them.

So we can't use them, but some locations in the States can.......outside of what Joe mentioned my best answer would be to check with your local electrical inspector and see what they says about them.
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