2- vs. 3-prong outlets

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I have an old home that has mostly the 2-prong outlets (without the ground). There are 3-prong outlets in the new add-on and converted garage, but that's beside the point.
One of the 2-prong outlets is broken and needs to be replaced, but all I can find *locally* (it's a small town) are 3-prong outlets. My only question is, does anyone even make the 2-prong outlets anymore? (If so, I'll make a special trip to the big city!)
I can't afford to have an electrician come in and change things right now, so no need to suggest it. (I will, eventually.)
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8^)~~~ Sue (remove the x to e-mail)
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2004 21:14:43 GMT, Suzie-Q wrote:

Just use a modern outlet. Screw a ground wire into the outlet box, and connect that to the ground screw on the outlet (the green one). It won't be properly grounded (unless the box is actually grounded, which is unlikely), but there's no harm in wiring it that way. It won't be any worse for grounded appliances than using those three prong/two prong adapters.
-- - Mike
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good way to get the next owner to curse you, expecting a 3 prong outlet to be properly wired with a ground.
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I'm in that situation now:( One of the do-it-yourself wiring books I have suggests using a GFI outlet in the absence of a proper ground. Does any electrician type have an opinion on that?
Thanks,
Pick
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GFI outlets do not work without a proper ground. (The "test" button trips them, but the plug in tester will not). I know this because I failed a CO because a GFI was on an ungrounded circuit (knob and tube). I would up having to ground the whole circuit (which was wired with 14/2...just that the ground was "floating").
Jay
Pick wrote:

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Jay wrote:

What's a "CO"?
GFCI's work just fine without a ground. The NEC specifically allows you to use them without a ground, but you're supposed to put a sticker on them that says "NO EQUIPMENT GROUND". It doesn't have to pass that plug in tester thing.
-Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

Certificate of occupancy. What one needs before one can move into a new home.
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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zxcvbob wrote:

Certificate of Occupancy (as someone already answered). In my case I needed it to sell a home.

A GFI in our bathroom failed with the "tester" because there was no ground. I grounded the outlet with a clip-lead to a copper pipe, and the GFI worked fine.
So, in theory, I agree that a ground is not needed. I'm not sure that is true in practice. And the best response for a Code Inspector is "Yes, Sir". :+)
Do they make "two prong" GFCIs? I guess the GFI "breakers" are the best answer (except for the trip to the basement everytime one trips).
Jay
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First your created a serious human safety problem. No wire must connect to a pipe to dump electricity in that pipe. The electrical inspection probably failed because an outlet without ground did not have the necessary (code required) label "No equipment ground". So instead, you created a threat to human life.
GFI works when test button is pressed because that is how a GFI works. Electrical inspector simply discovered a missing ground on a three prong plug without any indication of that missing ground - a code violation. He did not fail the GFI. He failed the missing safety ground. Now for that pipe problem. Again, you have created a human safety problem especially for people standing in water in a bathroom.
The idea is not to pass the inspection. The idea is to make a safe house.
Jay wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

But that is what our breaker box does. The ground connects to the water main. It was like that when we moved in. Is it now code to drive a rod into the ground for an approved ground?

I bought a tester as well. It failed to trip (in addition to indicating the missing ground.) Fixing the ground fixed both problems. Maybe the testers isn't worth a damn, but it certainly showed more than the "test" button on the GFI box.

I grounded a previously ungrounded circuit. The 14/2 wiring was effectively 14/0 (floating ground). The ground no longer floats and goes to earth ground through half inch copper pipe. I would think I made the entire circuit safer in that now all the fixture housings are grounded to earth ground rather than floating.

The prime directive was to make the house safe. Passing the inspection was a goal, however.
Thanks for your comments, Jay
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Test button on GFI makes GFI respond to the only thing GFI sees. Yes, the ground is helpful to make receptacle safer for human. But a new human safety threat has been created that probably cannot be found by future owners.
Again, never dump electricity into a pipe. The connection from breaker box to water pipe is to remove electricity (a fault) from that pipe (water pipe connection must also be five feet from where pipe contacts earth ground). Since early 1990s, code requires a dedicated ground to earth. This is different from safety ground to receptacles. Earth and safety grounds are interconnected, but they serve different functions.
Why did inspector fail that GFI? Because it had no safety ground AND did not say it had no safety ground. So instead of connecting to a safety ground or instead of installing that required label, you dumped electricity into the pipes. You did not fix the problem. You cured a symptom.
What happens when the plumber replaces metal pipe with plastic. You must assume that will happen because he might do just that. Now we have an even worse safety problem. Failed appliance dumping electricity into a pipe. Electricity finds no path to breaker box, so circuit breaker does not trip. Human, standing in bathtub water, touches faucet and dies. All because the symptom of a problem was cured rather than problem cured.
Never dump electricity into pipes - a human safety problem.
Value and purpose of tester: it can find a failure but will never prove wiring is correct. For example, a 36 AWG sliver could fall down and make a ground connection. Tester would declare ground as OK. But ground is not. When that safety ground is necessary, instead the sliver vaporizes or disconnects. Tester does not report a good condition. Tester only reports failures.
Test button on GFI tests GFI operation. Tester's test button tests for a missing safety ground. Each button looks for a different failure. It does sound rather complicated. But this is directly traceable to a problem created before 1962(?): 14 gauge wire without the necessary safety ground. Code offers simple (kludge) solution. GFI with the attached "no equipment ground" label. GFI with label is safer than GFI safety ground electricity dumped into copper water pipe.
BTW, if you think routing a safety ground wire cannot be done, the you have not seen why electrician have all those fancy tools and tricks. The best solution remains a safety ground wire to that outlet. Some interconnected appliances may be intermittent or damaged if that equipment ground is not provided - a concept that may be beyond the scope of this original problem. But another reason why that attached "no ground" provides useful information.
Jay wrote:

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<...snipped...>
Yes they do
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Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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The inspector was either ignorant of the NEC, or, you misunderstood why you failed inspection.
The NEC (and CEC) _explicitly_ approves GFCIs on ungrounded circuits for renovation/repair work if you don't have a real ground.
They work just fine without grounds.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Chris Lewis wrote:

OK. Let me correct this. The "tester" failed to trip the GFI. Maybe it would work if you jammed a fork in the slots or something. I wasn't about to argue with the Code Inspector for a $10 fix.
Jay
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Ah.. That's different. The test-device failed to trip the GFCI because it tried to produce a ground-fault to the ground plug. The GFCI didn't trip because there was no fault.
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If the "tester" the inspector used "tested" the GFI by shunting current to the ground prong, there's two possibilities:
    1) The inspector did not take into account the _clear_ wording      in the NEC that permits three prong GFCIs (without any ground      whatsoever) as a substitute for grounding.     2) He tested another outlet, and faulted you for not having the      sticker.
There's a third possibility: he figured that getting a "real ground" was sufficiently easy that you _should_ do it anyway. The fact that you could for $10 means it was worth it.
I suggest you peruse http://www.faqs.org/faqs/electrical-wiring/part1/section-35.html
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2004 15:00:21 -0700, Charles Spitzer wrote:
[snip]

There are countless ways to annoy possible future owners of a house. Unless a sale is imminent, worrying about future owners is no way to dictate how to handle a simple problem like replacing a busted outlet. A sale in this day and age would almost certainly be contingent upon updating the wiring of the house, and no competent home inspector is going to think one three-prong outlet in the middle of many two-prong outlets is actually grounded.
There's no non-pedantic reason to hunt all over for an old outlet.
-- - Mike
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Mike Ruskai wrote:

89 cents for a two-pronger at home depot. I replaced two of them. Mostly out of fear of lawsuits from someone who buys the house.
Jay
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Mike Ruskai wrote:

If you do that, please epoxy screws or something into the ground holes on that outlet as a warning to everyone that it's *not* grounded.
Jeff
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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

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On Thu, 15 Apr 2004 19:39:35 -0400, Jeff Wisnia wrote:

Yeah, that's much more sensible than simply marking the outlet as not grounded.
-- - Mike
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