switching out 2 pin for 3 pin sockets in my victorian home

we have a number of older 2 pin electrical wall sockets in our victorian home and most of my appliances are 3 pin. can i just switch them to 3 pin sockets? is there a problem with doing that?
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On 05/25/09 12:45 pm Si wrote:

There may not be a ground wire to which to connect the ground pin.
Perce
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Yes.
Yes.
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If your Victorian home has Victorian wiring, there may be a problem. As your home probably predated electricity, you most likely have a variety of wiring types in it. For you to use a grounded outlet, you need to have a type of wiring that either carries a grounding conductor, or is in a type of metallic covering. You can also install grounding conductors to existing outlets, however it's probably more cost effective to just run new cables, especially if these outlets are in a kitchen
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Short answers; yes & yes
Yes, you can change out your 2 wire receptacle to 3 wire receptacles.
But unless there is a grounding conductor present in the boxes or the boxes are themselves grounded, the new 3 wire receptacles will be ungrounded. This will be misleading; looking like a grounded receptacle but not really being one.
Re-wiring is an option but a fair amount of work.
One way to improve the safety of the installation but at a fraction of the effort is to install GFI's and label them "no equipment ground"; which was allowable under previous codes but I'm not sure about current code.
cheers Bob
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"One way to improve the safety of the installation but at a fraction of the effort is to install GFI's and label them "no equipment ground"; which was allowable under previous codes but I'm not sure about current code."
Amen!
ASSuming the GFCI functions, you get more protection against shock with the GFCI without ground than from a properly grounded outlet.
The "shock" comes from the person being grounded by some other means (e.g.: by placing a hand on a radiator or sitting in a bath tub) and then touching a metal object that has been entergized by a cross between "frame" and the hot wire.
What the proper ground "buys" you is that the GFCI will 'trip' as soon as you plug in the faulty 3 pin appliance. Without the ground, the GFCI will only trip when your soft body makes a connection between frame and "real" ground.
A proper ground without the GFCI should trip the breaker if there is a fault in th 3 pin appliance.
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Yes, this is the best approach, short of rewiring the house.
Some practical advice: your old outlets may be in very small boxes, or no boxes at all. Pull one or two (power off at the panel, and tested with a lamp!) to find out.
If the former, shop around for the smallest-bodied gfi receptacles you can find; avoid the ones with hardwired pigtails because you won't have room for the wirenuts. Look for ones which accept the wires into holes in the back, with screws that clam them down.
If you have no boxes, use "old work" boxes which can be inserted into the wall and clamp against the back of the wall. These come in a couple of styles, basically some clamp on the sides and some on the top and bottom. Some of your outlet locations may allow for only one of these; for instance, if they're hard against a stud on one side, you'll need the kind that clamp top and bottom. And you'll need to enlarge the holes for these, whether the outlets are in the baseboards (very common in old homes) or plaster walls. This will be the most annoying part of the job, and to save you another post, no, there is no secret *good* way to cut lath and plaster, just work away with whatever saw, knife or chisel you have at hand. Since your old wires will be frustratingly short, enlarge the hole in the direction from which the wires come, to give yourself an extra half inch of wires in the box.
It's true in theory that a gfi can protect downstream outlets, however (a) you need to understand which outlets are downstream of which others, and this can be massively confusing in an old home (b) you'll still want to replace the old outlets with 3-prong ones, so you're not saving any labour, and (c) any nuisance trip will affect the whole circuit. I'd err on the side of putting a cfi in each location.
K&T is usually not marked for hot vs neutral, so get a little three- lamp tester and be prepared to reverse the connections in about half the ones you've wired. Also invest upfront in a good pair of long- nosed pliers, a stubby screwdriver appropriate to the screws on the gfi (probably philips, maybe robertson in Canada), a flashlight, and a low comfortable stool, unless you're a yoga master.
Chip C Toronto
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Si wrote:

depends on whether the boxes are grounded or not. If they are, no problem, but unless you use "self grounding" receps you have to wire the ground terminal of the recep to a grounding screw tapped into the box. If the boxes are NOT grounded (e.g. house wired with 2-wire NM cable) then you have two options - 1) install a GFCI upstream of the first recep on each circuit, and mark each recep with a sticker reading "GFCI protected - no equipment ground" 2) run a ground wire to each box in which you want to use a 3-prong recep. Code allows you to do this in a retrofit type situation; for new construction the ground wire must be part of the cable or in the same conduit as the H & N conductors.
good luck
nate
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On May 26, 11:20�am, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

The following is UNSAFE, and can kill, espically kids and those not healthy like the elderly....
Cutting ground pins off plugs
Installing 3 prong outlets without a ground
using 3 rong adapters that arent grounded
Installing 3 prong outlets and wiring the ground to a neutral
attempting to defeat grounding in any way
sorry anyone who advises otherwise is a idiot, its one thing for them to put their lives at risk and far worse to put others at risk.
old wiring like K&T is often overloaded with 30 amp fuses where 15 amp belong, and given their age frequently have less than good workmanship on circuit additions etc. often older homes only have one outlet per room which leads top trip and fire hazards with extension cords all over, and sometimes under the carpet being walked on.
hey how iold is your car? 5 years perhaps 10?
your home is probably the biggest investment in your lifetime, doesnt it deserve a rewire in 100 years?
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Si wrote:

Sure. It'll make plugging modern stuff in considerably more convenient.
Won't be any less safe than the current situation and you may have an opportunity to make it safer.
Less work would be to Dremel off the ground pin on your appliances. Least work would be to fit 3-2 adaptors on your cords.
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If the wiring is K&T knob and tube its time to rewire. when you decide to sell K&T will stop the sale, since most homeowner companies will no longer write new policies for thios obsolete wiring
Lack of working grounds can be a MAJOR LETHAL SAFETY HAZARD!!
If the device plugged in gets a hot to case, you can get killed.
I service machines for a living where wires hit case and properly grounded trip breaker./
sorry only idiots cut off ground pins. occasionally it thins the herd, but you could kill a visiting child or loved one
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bob haller wrote:

I agree. From 1897 until about 1955, when there were only two wires and no grounds anywhere, as many as eight people were electrocuted in the U.S. Why take a chance?
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HeyBub wrote:

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please post a cite for this, before gFCIs bathroom electrocutions were pretty common...
and no one addressed the homeowners insurance hassle, espically at home resale time.
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bob haller wrote:

You may use my post as an authoritative source. Feel free to quote it often.
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On 5/25/2009 9:45 AM Si spake thus:

Lots of answers already, so hopefully this won't get lost in all the noise.
Unless it's been rewired to modern standards, chances are all your wiring in your house is the original 2-wire stuff, meaning there's no ground conductor.
So the answer is you *shouldn't* install grounded outlets if there's no ground conductor. It's kind of deceptive, which is why the code (the NEC, National Electrical Code) frowns on it.
You don't really need the ground conductor anyhow. If you have grounded (3-pin) plugs, just get a bunch of grounded adapters.
The alternative is to completely rewire your house, including a new service panel (breaker panel). Quite expen$ive as you can imagine. No, there's no way to just add a ground wire (and if there is, you shouldn't do it anyhow).
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