A common question I that get a lot in the comments is that; how to ground an outlet without ground wire?
The main way of grounding an outlet without ground wire is by using GFCI Outlet. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlet is a Circuit breaker that can automatically shut power off when it detects an electrical fault causing any form of harm from taking place.
I have seen lots of houses without any form of ground outlet, sometimes there are three-prong outlets which may look like they have grounding, but turns out they are just placeholders for the three pin ports.
Ground wire is generally not mandatory to have for a circuit to be complete and lots of people skip on grounds for that reason, but they are surely going to save you and me from getting shocked!
Why Are Ground Wires Necessary?
These electrical wires go under the homes, allowing additional electrical charges a way to go without causing any sort of hazards such as fire or electric shock.
The ground beneath has unlimited negative charges and the positive charges of current are attracted to the negative charges therefore becoming neutral in a controlled way.
How To Know If My Outlets Are Grounded?
Homes built in the 1990’s generally did not always have properly grounded wiring systems as it was not mandatory to have grounds but having proper grounded system is expected and necessary in newer homes.
You can check if your home is grounded relatively easily, Grounded outlets have three slots while ungrounded outlets only have two.
The round or bottom slot in a three slot outlet is generally the ground.
You have to keep in mind, not all three-slot outlets have ground wires in them, and older homes can have three slots just as a placeholder for three-pin plugs without any proper ground wiring.
You can use a simple tool such as a circuit tester on the outlets that would indicate right away if the outlets are grounded or not.
When the light of the circuit tester lights up, indicates that the outlet is grounded, Otherwise you will have to change the outlet to have some form of ground protection.
Can an outlet be grounded without a ground wire?
Yes, you can have your outlets be grounded without a ground wire using Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlets.
They monitor the current coming and leaving the outlet and whenever it notices that there is a significant difference, the breaker trips to turn off the current flow in the outlet preventing any sort of electrical shock or fire, providing the same protection as ground wire does.
You can trip the breaker back on to get the circuit running again.
Process to install a GFCI Outlet
You can replace your outlets as it is the most reliable way to ensure safety if ground wire is not present in the outlets.
Step 1: Turning off the Power
Before replacing the outlet, you should turn off the power in the circuit as you will be working on from the main power box. Verify using a Voltage tester that there is no voltage in the main outlet that connects to other outlets in the room.
Step 2: Removing the old Outlet
You will unscrew the plate covering the outlet, unscrew further and remove the outlet from the electrical box. Then disconnect all the wires from the outlet and use a black tape to mark the hot (live) wire which is usually in Red or Brown color. Identifying helps to install the wires properly on the new Outlet.
Step 3: Connecting the New GFCI Outlet
The GFCI Outlet will have a Line terminal and Load terminal. You will be able to connect another outlet with the load terminal to provide GFCI protection to that outlet as well as the GFCI outlet that you are replacing.
In the Line terminal, you will insert the hot wire in the Input Line terminal and Neutral in the output line and connect another outlet on the load terminal in similar manner.
Add the ground wire to the metal housing of the outlet as they are generally connected to the ground and then screw the outlet in the box and screw in the cover. Turn on the power and check the outlets if they are working properly
Step 4: Make sure to leave an indicator
You need to put an indicator such as a label to remind new users that there is no proper ground in this outlet to warn people if they are relying for protection from any form of power surge as otherwise their electronics can be harmed.
Installing GFCI Outlets should be an alternative to changing the entire wiring of a house and give some protection against electrical shocks or fire from happening.
How Do I Add A Ground To An Outlet?
Adding a ground directly to an outlet is not possible if the house has no proper ground wirings.
Some of the metal boxes to which the outlets are attached are made with metal which are attached to main cable turns out to be generally grounded and the flexible metal jackets serves almost the same purpose as a dedicated ground wire.
You can change the entire house wiring and add ground wire, but it is an expensive solution although it provides ground and surge protection to the entire house.
It is always best to call in a certified electrician to find proper solution regarding any form of wirings and to prevent any hazards happening and they can give a proper quote regarding the grounding situation of your home.
It is also good to get the circuits checked every now and then to ensure there is no form of damages in the electric circuits as a whole.