I would like to replace a two prong outlet in the kitchen of my 1950's home
with a GFCI outlet. The conductor is two-wire (no ground). Will a GFCI
outlet work (will I be able to "reset" it)without replacing the wiring?
Is the house wired with Romex (armored cable)? If so that is your ground so
the screws holding it to the box will give you the ground or you could run
an extra wire from the box to the ground terminal. Also check to make sure
you have 110 volts from hot to the box and nothing from neutral to the box
this will confirm that you do have a ground just not a separate one like
I would add a ground wire if at all possible. GFCI is good but ground
with GFCI is better.
the ungrounded GFCI will be noted at home resale time.
might be easier to run a new dedicated 20 amp circuit just for kitchen,
abandon old receptable remove and use blank cover
I would say a GFCI is adding an order of magnitude more protection than
a ground ever would. A GFCI will trip on any ground fault, whether
it's to the ground of the outlet or another path to ground, like a
water pipe or standing in a pool of water while sticking a fork in the
A ground is some additional protection, mainly if the GFCI failed to
work and a connected appliance had a grounding cord.
Yes, it will work fine and do the shock protection job as intended, and
test or reset without problems.
When you buy a new GFCI outlet it will come with a stick-on label saying
"Ground Not Connected" which you should place on the outlet plate for
I haven't yet learned just why that notice is needed, but I suppose
there's a valid reason. It's hard to imagine why someone would want to
use the ground pin of a receptical to ground something that's not being
powered by that same receptical, maybe someone here will explain that part.
It doesn't have to be something else. It could be an appliance with a
3-prong cord. Some people will see a 3-hole receptacle (as GFCIs are)
and think there's a ground there. If there's no ground (and a GFCI in
no way CREATES one), it's somewhat safer to have that fact indicated.
You can still get a nasty shock from an ungrounded GFCI protected
circuit if all the current leaking into your body through a hotwire
fault goes back into the neutral wire. This is not uncommon, and is
as easy as gripping the metal prongs of an outlet when inserting or
removing a plug from a socket.
GFCI's protect by sensing an imbalance between the hot and neutral
wires and tripping OFF when this get to be 5 ma. or greater. During
the type of fault described above, there is no imbalance and therefore
no protection from this type of shock.
As stated by other posters, a ground wire is not required, but if you
want to be protected, you hope that the fault leakage will find a path
to ground through a cold water piper, damp basement floor, moist
Before the GFCI's were invented, electrical safety was predicated on a
good ground being connected to the metal frame of a motor, for
Under such circumstances, a hot-to-frame fault would normally result
in a near short circuit and hopefully trip the breaker or blow the
fuse serving the motor.
GFCI's augment, but do not completely replace the protection that a
good grounding system offers.
if a ground wasnt better than a GFCI grounds wouldnt be required, and
GFCIs do fail, I found a bad one and replaced it, after testing it with
one of those plug in testers, it didnt trip.
in a kitchen with water that could kill.......
Just a side-note, if you have a GFCI without a ground, some testers
won't work even if the GFCI is perfectly good.
Because they test the GFCI by leaking current to ground, but the ground
pin isn't connected to a ground, so the tester does not create a ground
That's one reason you should have the "no equipment ground" sticker on
ungrounded GFCIs. It's also there for equipment that expects a ground,
like electronics, or a tool with a grounded housing for protection.
email@example.com is Joshua Putnam
There is no way that a ground is better than a GFCI. Given the choice
of one or the other, I would take the GFCI in a minute. Most of the
items one plugs in today don't even have a ground wire, whether it's a
hair dryer, toaster, or electric drill. Get any of those wet or with
an exposed conductor and grab it while grounded and it can kill you
whether it's plugged into a grounded outlet or not. But if it's
plugged into a GFCI, it will trip at 5ma in a fraction of a second,
whether the appliance has a ground or not, which is much less than the
current required to kill you.
Sure, GFCI's can fail. But so can grounds. Haven't we seen plenty of
posts on here of folks with all kinds of situations with missing
grounds? All you need for a ground to be ineffective is an
interruption in the daisy chain of wiring. So, without actual data, I
would not conclude that grounds are any more or less reliable than a
Since I think I was the first poster on this thread to remind the OP to
apply that "No Ground Connection" sticker, I wasn't against it, just
pondering about the average citizen not even understand what it means.
Well, maybe a techie or perhaps someone trying to test the GFCI with an
artificially created external leak to the ground pin hole. When GFCIs
first began to appearI once stuck the leads of a 10K one watt carbon
resistor between the hot and ground pins on a GFCI to "test" its tripping.
I'm sure that the manufacturers of GFCI outlets are more than willing to
include that sticker to maximize their CYA potential.
And I'd agree that a belt and suspenders approach, with a properly
grounded GFCI would have advantages over an ungrounded one in unlikely
and arcane situations.
Ahh all TWO prong devices today with ANY exposed outside conductive
surfaces are DOUBLE INSULATED with 2 layers of protection between
conductor and shell.
GFCI with ground is safer, lets imagine your drilling a hole in a wall
and happen to hit a active conductor. the GFCI wouldnt know your
getting shocked, whilew a ground will.
if you ask me all electric drills should be 3 prong for this reason.
Not the only one. My house is too new for K&T (built around 1969), but
there are still no ground wires (except to laundry area). I do have
several GFCIs in use.
BTW, that includes the one that had to be replaces because it was full
of ants (eggs and feces too).
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