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2-wire electrical plugs
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2-wire electrical plugs

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2-wire electrical plugs
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Thread: 2-wire electrical plugs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    12

    Default 2-wire electrical plugs

    hi,
    I have an older home, built of wood in 1929. Some of the electrical is 2-wire with no provision for an earth-ground. Tearing out walls and floors to replace wiring is beyond my budget, but I do need to replace some of the electrical socket plugs.
    Would I be better off connecting the earth ground connection on the plug to the white ground wire or just leaving the 3rd earth ground connection unconnected?
    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    Connecting the ground to the white is a very dangerous situation. DO NOT DO IT.
    You can legally replace the receptacles with GFCI devices and leave the ground open. There should be stickers in the GFCI "no ground". Install them on the receptacles you replace.
    Operation Overlord.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisb View Post
    Connecting the ground to the white is a very dangerous situation. DO NOT DO IT.
    You can legally replace the receptacles with GFCI devices and leave the ground open. There should be stickers in the GFCI "no ground". Install them on the receptacles you replace.
    Thank you for your reply. I never knew they made GFCI socket plugs that did not require a green earth ground wire. Are they standard to use for devices that have 3-lead plugs such as vacuum cleaners, window air conditioners, etc?
    Would you mind explaining why its dangerous to connect the center earth ground prong to a circuit return ground? They're both grounds, aren't they?
    Thank you for your help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Default

    In doing a bit of research, I would like to copy and paste something here for your comment:

    By design, GFCI testers will not test a GFCI that’s protecting a 2-wire circuit. These testers apply the test current between the hot and equipment ground. So, if there’s no equipment ground, no test current will flow.
    If any exposed metal parts are connected to the receptacle grounding contact (such as a metal faceplate or a weatherproof cover), the tester will energize them. Some testers apply up to 30mA of test current; so using one of these while touching a metal cover plate could result in an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous shock.

    I bought a lot of new sockets with new metal face plates. If I replace the sockets with GFCI sockets, will I get a bad shock if I use the tester built into the GFCI socket?

    Thanks for your input.
    Last edited by steve; 11-10-2016 at 12:43 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
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    Default

    You will not get a shock with a GFCI test button.
    A GFCI does not require a ground to operate. The testers they are referring to are the plugin portable ones, not the ones built into the GFCI.
    The reason for the danger of connecting ground to neutral is that now any metal grounded part of the unit you plug in becomes part of the circuit with current flowing on it. If the neutral was to become disconnected somewhere on the circuit all the metal parts of any unit on the circuit would become a live shock hazard.
    Operation Overlord.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Default

    That grounding explanation makes sense to me, thank you.

    Do I need a GFCI plug made especially for 2-wire installation or will any GFCI plug work? Can I install them on all outlets? I was reading something about putting them only on upstream or downstream plugs only because something about loads. The way wires are criss-crossed under the house and in the walls and breakers don't seem to have any order, affecting only a couple plugs but in more than one room, I have no idea what is upstream or downstream of another plug.
    Also all breakers are 20 amp or larger and some of the plugs were 20 amp 2 wire plugs, so that is what I'm using. Is this what you had in mind as a recommendation I should use?

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C6Z5TZ8...ing=UTF8&psc=1

    Very pricy, but the electrical is a mess and as I just bought the house, I don't have extra money for a proper house rewire.
    Note, some of the plugs are not in a box, but rather the plug is attached to the wood wall over a hole in the wall with two sheet metal screws. The face plate covers everything and it looks like a normal socket. If I use the plug shown in he link above, I'd have to replace the two mounting screws with sheet metal screws.

    Are there any specific product part numbers you can recommend and / or links where to buy them online? I live in a rural town and the only hardware store here is very limited in what it has to offer.

    Thank you, Sir.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2016
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    Default

    OK, I think I understand now. So is this what I should ideally be using in my situation?

    Self-Test SmartlockPro Slim GFCI Non-Tamper Resistant Receptacle with LED Indicator... – Leviton

    Also if I use GFCI plugs as all my socket assemblies, then I just wire them as the plugs were originally wired - black and black together and white to white together and don't use the "Load" part of the socket, correct?

    Thank you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    216

    Default

    Yes, I would put a regular GFCI at every location and do not use the LOAD side (there is NOT a special one for ungrounded installations, at least there never used to be. Some of the new self testing ones may require a ground). You don't need to buy the 20A ones, as all duplex receptacles are rated for 15A per outlet and 20A pass through. Technically, you need to buy the tamper resistant ones to meet current code. But if you changed these to GFCI's 5 years ago you wouldn't have needed the TR ones.

    Your cheapest solution would be to find a pack with as many GFCI's in it as possible (I've seen 3 and 10 packs). White or ivory will be easier to find, and I'd get the dumbest ones you can find as they are cheapest. If you want the dark brown, they may be tougher to find inexpensively. The SmartLock one you linked to may have issues with no ground, but I don't know how some of these advanced features work. Do you have a Home Deport somewhere near you? Even if not I think they will ship to your house: Leviton 15 Amp 125-Volt Duplex Self-Test Slim GFCI Outlet, White (3-Pack)-M02-GFNT1-03W - The Home Depot

    Note that having a short circuit on a GFCI tends to kill the GFCI circuitry. So if something you plug in shorts, be sure to use the TEST button to verify it still works.
    Last edited by suemarkp; 11-10-2016 at 11:39 PM.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Default

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I think I know what to do now. I never dealt with 2-wire electrical before.
    Thank you.
    Just for fun, in addition to the standard 2-prong sockets I'm replacing, I'm including links to pictures to some of the more unusual plugs I'm replacing. But of course mine are very used and broken.

    http://www.lighting-gallery.net/gall...8/image~15.jpg
    double T sockets

    https://www.surplussales.com/Images/...e-handy_lg.jpg
    a few sockets along the floor are housed in surface-mount boxes like this

    and I'm replacing them with this box:
    <image messed up, data removed; moderator SMP>

    And a couple sockets are over-sized round sockets with one horizontal blade and one vertical blade. I had to measure them as I did not know if they might be some type of vintage 220v socket. But they're just 110v. I've searched the internet for pictures of this vintage socket, but none were found. I might just leave these as conversation pieces. I've never seen any type of plug that is anywhere close to being able to be plugged into them.

    Thank you again for all your help.
    Last edited by suemarkp; 11-11-2016 at 02:46 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    12

    Default

    did I do something wrong? Why do my posts now need to be approved by the moderator before they appear?

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