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  1. #1
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    Default GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    I think I saw a thread in the past where someone mentioned that installing a GFCI outlet at older two prong ungrounded outlets was an acceptable alternative in lieu of running a separate ground wire to and replacing the two prongs with three prong grounded outlets.

    Is this an acceptable alternative? And is it equally safe and functional?

    I had a discussion with a client in regards to this, but I don't want to give incorrect advice.

    Is this advice that you would give to your client, or would you say replace all two prong outlets with three-wire grounded outlets?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    I think I saw a thread in the past where someone mentioned that installing a GFCI outlet at older two prong ungrounded outlets was an acceptable alternative in lieu of running a separate ground wire to and replacing the two prongs with three prong grounded outlets.

    Is this an acceptable alternative? And is it equally safe and functional?

    I had a discussion with a client in regards to this, but I don't want to give incorrect advice.

    Is this advice that you would give to your client, or would you say replace all two prong outlets with three-wire grounded outlets?
    It is acceptable and maybe equally safe, but it is not as functional since it still would not be grounded. For example, as far as I know, most if not all surge protector strips need to be plugged into grounded receptacles to function properly.

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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    This is the recent thread that covered this subject pretty well.

    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...-reversed.html

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    John,

    That was very informative.
    Thank you for your help.


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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    The standard speil I give people is that it's better but not nearly as good as being grounded. The GFI protects people but not equipment. Nearly all electronics manufactured today (and for quite some time in the past) require a grounded outlet.


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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    The standard speil I give people is that it's better but not nearly as good as being grounded. The GFI protects people but not equipment. Nearly all electronics manufactured today (and for quite some time in the past) require a grounded outlet.
    I tell them a surge protector won't work without a ground. If it doesn't need surge protection, like lights, clock alarms, radios, etc., no problem.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Good Posts
    I also mention to the client that I don't recommend they replace a 2 prong receptacle with a (3 prong) GFCI receptacle that a refrigerator or washing machine is going to use. These appliances can trip the GFCI when they operate. Also, I show them the tag on the end of the cord which warns them not to plug these appliances into an ungrounded receptacle. Any appliance that comes from the factory with a 3 prong plug should only be plugged into a grounded receptacle. No need for the GFCI unless other wet issues are involved.


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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Replacing a 2-prong outlet with a GFCI outlet is acceptable. True it is still not grounded, but the GFCI will work without a ground. I have also been told that a GFCI circuit breaker can be installed, which is probably less expensive. You cannot simply replace a 2 prong oulet with a 3 prong oultlet unless you put a sticker that says the outlet is ungrounded.

    Joe Maxwell/Arkansas


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    Smile Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    "dam I step in it didn't I"

    The NEC code edition 1987 handbook Article 210 (d) Grounding-type re-
    ceptacles shall be used as replacements for existing nongrounding type
    and shall be connected to a grounding conductor installed....

    I don't know what years the The National Electrical Code. editions allowed the used of two wire cable, (meaning HOT/GROUND with no
    grounding conductor to be acceptable wiring method. I believe there
    also a time when MFG. made NM cable with a reduce size grounding
    conductor. If you see a non-grounding outlet during an inspection,
    with the help of an electrician, you may find that metal outlet box is
    grounded by way such cable. so an electrician may be be able to use
    this reduce size grounding conductor if there no local of State electrical
    code against this wiring practice.

    .....Expection: Where a grounding means does not exist in the receptacle
    enclosure either a nongrounding or a ground-fault circuit-interrupter-type
    of receptacle shall be used. A grounding conductor shall not be connected from the GFCI receptacle to any outlet supplted from the GFCI
    type receptacle.

    I believe this practice is still allowed, but I do not have a NEC 2008
    editon to check if currently allowed. IT was under the NEC 2005 edition
    in Article 406; 406.3,(D),(3)

    the used of GFCI duplex/single receptacle or breaker type does not pro-
    vide surge protection, all the surge protectors I run across require there
    be a grounding conductor in order for then to operate properly.

    Many house exist today with non-grounded receptacle, and are safe to
    live in. The question may be what the new owner wants to see if he buy
    the house.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic Caronna View Post
    Good Posts
    I also mention to the client that I don't recommend they replace a 2 prong receptacle with a (3 prong) GFCI receptacle that a refrigerator or washing machine is going to use. These appliances can trip the GFCI when they operate.
    Old home inspector lore.

    By the time most home inspectors have been around that was no longer true.

    Some 20+ years ago the standard for electrical equipment and appliances changed where the allowable leakage current was reduced to a maximum of 0.5 ma, a GFCI trips at 5.0 ma, which means that if the appliance is within 20-something years old and it trips the GFCI then there is a problem.

    Telling them NOT to plug it into a GFCI could end up costing them their life.

    Again, old home inspector lore. Repeat old home inspector lore often enough and it is taken as fact when it is not.

    Also, I show them the tag on the end of the cord which warns them not to plug these appliances into an ungrounded receptacle. Any appliance that comes from the factory with a 3 prong plug should only be plugged into a grounded receptacle.
    Good advice.

    No need for the GFCI unless other wet issues are involved.
    Maybe no "need" but also no "problem" installing a GFCI for them either, and if the GFCI trips, there is a problem, wiring, appliance, SOMETHING tripped the GFCI.

    Unless they are still using that 1960's refrigerator ...

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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Unless they are still using that 1960's refrigerator ...
    Or my Remington Microscreen shaver with a bad cord.


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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Or my Remington Microscreen shaver with a bad cord.
    Which means it is not "nuisance" tripping, it is trying to tell you something. You might want to listen to it.

    That tingling feeling you get down through your toes is not from the close shave.

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  13. #13
    Cobra Cook's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    You do not plug a refridgerator or washing machine into a gfci circuit.
    It is not required and they are not made to do so.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobra Cook View Post
    You do not plug a refridgerator or washing machine into a gfci circuit.
    You can if you want to.

    It is not required ...
    That part is correct.

    and they are not made to do so.
    That part is incorrect - they are made to do so, there is no harm in doing so. If the GFCI trips, it is not a nuisance trip, it is telling you SOMETHING is wrong.

    20+ years ago (maybe even 25+ years ago) you would have been correct, but not since the leakage standard for leakage current in appliances and motors has been reduced to 0.05 ma and the GFCI trips at 5.0 ma +/- 1 ma. The refrigerator would need to draw 10 TIMES ITS ALLOWABLE leakage current to trip a GFCI.

    Protecting a refrigerator or clothes washing machine is actually a smart thing to do for PEOPLE protection. If you are worried about spoiling food in it over protection yourself, your thinking is backward. If you are ALSO concerned about spoiling food when the GFCI trips off because of a problem - install an alarm to notify you when that GFCI trips, and make that refrigerator the ONLY thing on that circuit.

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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobra Cook View Post
    You do not plug a refridgerator or washing machine into a gfci circuit.
    It is not required and they are not made to do so.
    If the washer receptacle is within 6 foot of a sink it is REQUIRED to be GFI protected. This changed several years ago.

    On the commercial side ALL 120 volt receptacles in a kitchen are REQUIRED to be GFI protected, even for refrigerators.

    There should be no issues with using either of these one a GFI protected circuit or receptacle.


  16. #16
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    Thumbs up Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Of course the code within 6 ft of a sink has for many years been that way, that is why very few homes have sinks in the laundry rooms. I worked in large commercial kitchens for over 30 years and never saw a refridgerator or freezer wired with a gfi, plenty had alarms but no gfi and in all of those years I year none of my customers ever complained of being shocked. These types of equipment have multiple grounds and insulators inside to protect from shock. Jerry I doubt if you ever worked on anything but maybe just read alot.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobra Cook View Post
    Jerry I doubt if you ever worked on anything but maybe just read alot.
    Not only do you think you know it all, but you have shown that you know even less than I thought you did - and each time you post with incorrect information it shows you know even less than the previous time.

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  18. #18
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    Smile Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Surge protectors are called that because they protect equipment from a surge of electricity and not grounds, that is what a fuse or breaker is for.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Jerry, are you an ambulance chaser?


  20. #20
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    You do not plug a refridgerator or washing machine into a gfci circuit.
    It is not required and they are not made to do so.


    I'd be real interested to see what code book you get your info out of.




  21. #21
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    Cool Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Hello Everybody!

    Electrical Safety is No Accident!

    Do you wear PPE when inspecting a panelboard in the interior of a cabinet?

    I think that the GFCI is a true life saver!

    Answers to your questions can be found in NEC Article 406, drop me a line I will send that information to you.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobra Cook View Post
    Surge protectors are called that because they protect equipment from a surge of electricity and not grounds, that is what a fuse or breaker is for.
    Now your are really showing your lack of knowledge ... "surge protectors" - where to heck did you get that from, we are talking about GFCI protection ... oh ... wait ... that could be the problem .... YOU THINK "surge protectors" and "GFCI protection" is ... one and the same!

    Oh my gawd, now I understand where you are coming from ... one of the Big Box stores ... because that is what the person in the electrical isle told you!

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Tedesco View Post
    Hello Everybody!
    Joe,

    I am sure you noticed what goofdude was holding in his other hand ... cutters.

    I'm guessing he was reading the current in the wires and someone was switching something on and off, so he could tell which was to cut!



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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Sure thats not a clamp-on amp meter?


  25. #25
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Sure thats not a clamp-on amp meter?
    In the hand closest to the viewer, yes, but I said "his other hand".

    I am sure that is not a clamp-on ammeter in his OTHER hand.

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  26. #26
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Sirs:

    I think that this Goofy Dude was using his right hand to spread the wires a bit to use the amprobe, at least it looks that way, besides I can see his dirty fingernails because he is not wearing PPE or gloves.

    Hey he probably said: "I don't need no stiking gloves mang"

    That brings up another question often asked by many:

    What is the proper PPE for anyone who removes the cover from a cabinet to inspect an energized panelboard?

    Can someone give me some examples and pictures or recommend where i can see what the inspector might do or recommend while inspecting energized equipment next to a meter socket?


  27. #27
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Tedesco View Post
    I think that this Goofy Dude was using his right hand to spread the wires a bit to use the amprobe, at least it looks that way,
    Joe,

    This is what I am referring to - see the pliers, long nose is what they look like.

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  28. #28
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Now I see it and I agree! I wonder if he planned on cutting one of the wires? He sure would have been surprised if he cut the neutral that was carrying a load!

    What about my PPE question is anyone coming to the plate to discuss this. I saw a video recently where the inspector was not wearing any PPE except maybe safety glasses while removing the cover from a cabinet!

    This is a serious business and I have, and we all can find documentation and images of dead people who suffered burns and are now injured for life.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Hi Joe, haven't see you in long time.

    About your PPE question, is directed to inspectors. who do home inspections or inspectors who do business inspections.

    If its a home, should the home owner have PPE suit before taking off the cover of his home electrical panel. How about a full face shield and a
    leather apron .

    What would recommend for a home, that would at least, be the minimun you should wear.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Tedesco View Post
    ...What about my PPE question is anyone coming to the plate to discuss this. I saw a video recently where the inspector was not wearing any PPE except maybe safety glasses while removing the cover from a cabinet! ...
    I would venture to say that the great majority of home inspectors use no protection whatsoever. Maybe safety glasses.

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  31. #31
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    John Arnold, I agree with you.

    All H.I. should know of the risk involve, when performing a customer
    requested electrical inspection. I alway assume the wiring was done
    by a Chimpanzee. Thank for your honest answer.

    /S/ Robert


  32. #32
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert S. Mattison View Post
    John Arnold, I agree with you.

    All H.I. should know of the risk involve, when performing a customer
    requested electrical inspection. I alway assume the wiring was done
    by a Chimpanzee. Thank for your honest answer.

    /S/ Robert
    I believe the most dangerous thing I do as a home inspector is ... DRIVE TO THE INSPECTION. Yet, I don't wear a helmet or other protective gear.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  33. #33
    Richard Abrams's Avatar
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    Cool Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    This is allowed by the NEC 2008 Article 406 D (3) However all receptlces need to be labeled " No equipment Ground"


  34. #34
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    yes you are correct, "no equipment ground", sticker can be found inside
    most boxes containing GFCI duplex receptacles.

    In comerical jobs, each wall plate has to be label, as to what electrical panel it's from along with what breaker number it's feed from.


  35. #35
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert S. Mattison View Post
    In comerical jobs, each wall plate has to be label, as to what electrical panel it's from along with what breaker number it's feed from.
    It does?

    New one on me, do you have that code section?

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  36. #36
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    Smile Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Jerry read your post, I'll get back to it, As far as it being in the NEC I am
    sure your right, but will post back to you as I know, as to what source this came from. ROBERT


  37. #37
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Jerry just getting back to answer you question.

    First in my defense, what is written inside your quote, could be read by
    other reader of this post in a misconstured matter. I apologized, if my
    writing implied that it did.

    Yes you are 100% correct, the NEC code makes no rule, that requires you
    to label electrical switch/outlet boxes, face plate covers.

    The only rule the NEC has falls under Art. 408.4 Every circuit and circuit
    modification shall be legibly identified as to its clear, evident and specfic
    purpose or use in suffficient detail on a directory located on the face or
    inside of the electrical panel door.

    The source comes from Electricians who work large comerical projects.
    Inside the project "Electricial Specification", under the Section Listed as;
    Installation Requirements "Provide a label on the cover plate of new, or
    existing, light switches and receptacles in the project area. Identify the
    panel and circuit number feeding the device. Embossed plastic tape labels
    are not acceptacle."

    You are right, what I mention earlier does fall outside the requirements of the NEC code rules. Thanks for you question.

    /S/ Robert


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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert S. Mattison View Post
    Embossed plastic tape labels are not acceptacle.

    Robert,

    Thanks for the update.

    "Embossed plastic tape labels are not acceptacle."

    Wonder if they accept the new printed labels on the label tape?

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  39. #39
    gary gramling's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI's for two-prong outlets

    I agree with the original thread that installing a GFCI as a replacement for a two prong outlet is a safe and proper method of protecting the client and others, when no acceptable ground can be found at the box. In fact, I've recommended it twice this week.
    And, I know that we don't always trust jurisdictional inspectors; but, I've actually come across a couple who have suggested the same. Made me nervous that they agreed; but, I concluded that they had become "official" inspectors just for the benefits package.


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