How to ground an old style electrical outlet box…Part 1 How to ground an old style electrical receptacle box (Part 1), is easy…when you know how. If you thought you couldn’t ground …

25 Responses to “How to ground an old style electrical outlet box…Part 1”

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  1. Logan Seaton says:

    You could always put in a gfci outlet. that way if the ground is not hooked
    up you have some protection.


    Great video for the DIY homeowner. I also found your video useful for an
    old electrician like myself. I’m currently doing some work in an older home
    (1965) The homeowner wants to replace the old style outlets with new 3
    prong ones.
    I explained to him that these should not be used on the old 2 wire system,
    but he had me put them in anyway. I know it’s not code to do it this way,
    but what can I say. I used my label maker to print some labels that say
    (UNGROUNDED) and affixed them to the cover plate.

    Now that you mentioned there may infact be a ground wire bonding each box
    together, I’m curious to see if that’s the case with this home.

    Some older homes were wired with ‘BX’ cable or conduit. back then it was ok
    to catch a ground that way. I’m going over to the house later today and I
    will check to see if they are grounded. Thanks for the help.


  3. Walter Lipman says:

    Using know-nothing videos like this is how people end up with electrical
    fires. Unless the house is wired with knob and tube (which would require a
    complete rewiring of the house), metal boxes are always used with either
    conduit or AC (brand name BX) cable, which carries a bonding strip, which
    ensures that the cable and all the boxes are grounded.

    I request that you remove this video and anything else you have up having
    anything whatsoever to do with electricity, because you simply don’t know a
    damn thing. Just as an example, loosening a screw holding an internal cable
    clamp can compromise the ground for that box, and anything downstream of it.

    You do not know what you’re doing, and that’s what makes so many DIY videos
    on YouTube a dangerous thing.

  4. Terry Pullen says:

    Do not assume the metal box is grounded. A video showing how to test for
    ground would be great. 

  5. Terry Pullen says:

    Some good tips here but for those watching who have no background knowledge
    in electricity it is important to understand how electricity can kill or
    injure you.

    First when current passes through your body it causes your muscles to
    contract violently. So if you grab a “hot” wire the muscles in your hand
    will contract causing you to grip the wire harder and you will not be able
    to open your hand. If this happens your arm will jerk back breaking the
    circuit, this is painful but usually not deadly.

    Now if you complete a circuit with only your hand, like holding a ground
    wire between your fingers and brushing the back of the same hand against
    the “hot” wire that’s one thing, the current only passes through the
    muscles of your hand. However if you grab the “hot” wire with your left
    hand and touch neutral or ground with your right hand you are placing your
    chest in the circuit. When this happens your heart will convulse violently
    (I understand this is extremely painful) and if the circuit is not broken
    quickly you will likely die before help can arrive.

    Also if you are standing on a ladder and receive even a small shock the
    loss of muscle control could cause you to fall from the ladder and the
    sudden and violent stop at the bottom of the ladder will injure you.

    In summary to be safe while working with electricity:
    First notify others in the home you will be working with electricity.
    Second turn off and lockout the breaker.
    Third do not assume that turning off a breaker actually turned off the
    power, test it with a meter, tester or lamp.
    Last but not least, practice never completing a circuit with vital organs
    like your heart or brain. 

  6. Manuel Correia says:

    Very good video, however, the metal box has to be grounded to the panel in
    order to have a ground. Alternative safe method is to install a GFCI – no
    need for a ground wire, perfectly legal

  7. daikaiju20 says:

    just fyi Joe, i believe in the US the ground, silver and gold screws are
    8-32 in residential (new) recepticals, maybe the screw you add to box is a
    10-32? thank for video joe

  8. Mike Rotch says:

    You’re not an expert, you’re a goddamned idiot! You don’t know anything
    about electrical codes and safety! You’ve grounded the outlet to the box,
    which is pointless because the frame of the outlet is screwed to the box
    anyway, but moreover you haven’t even confirmed that the box itself is
    grounded to anything. You don’t even check your work by testing the ground
    afterwards. Also it makes NO difference which way the outlet is oriented,
    and polarized plugs are useless. Grounding means the wire goes to the
    GROUND, you fucking idiot, not to the box!

    Listen to this man if you want to get electrocuted. The correct way to
    replace it is to text the box for ground continuity. If it’s grounded,
    just replace the outlet with a 3-wire and test it. If the box isn’t
    grounded, use a GFCI outlet, and connect the ground terminal to the
    neutral, then check it. The GFCI will trip if there is any residual
    current in the neutral wire that doesn’t match what’s in the hot wire, and
    the ground-to-neutral connection provides a path to trip the GFCI. Always
    test your work.

  9. SkepticInTraining says:

    Please, Please, Please, Do not follow the advice contained in this video!
    This guy knows just enough to get himself in trouble and he has no qualms
    about dragging you under with him. There are plenty of electricians and
    smart people that know electrical code, and why it is important (lives),
    who make how-to videos. Please go find one of them. As to VideoJoeKnows,
    I hope you’re lucky and you don’t kill someone, but it would be just
    that… LUCK!

  10. David Hempstead says:

    First , I was disappointed to read some of the post. I don’t believe the
    epithets posted were at all constructive, just abusive and lazy. The
    National Electrical Code (NEC) was developed for safety (Article 90.1) and
    I believe any critics of video should always reference the code, an
    objective arbiter of correctness. Accordingly, NEC 2011 and its
    jurisdictional derivatives can be found online, so access should not be a
    problem. Joe, In the future, I would suggest referring to the electrical
    code in your videos; for example, “according to article blah, blah, blah
    you must blah, blah, blah.”

    a) Article 100: The correct acronym is GFCI (ground-fault circuit
    interrupter). I have seen the “term” GFI here and even by reporters on the
    unfortunate case of Ashton Jojo, an eleven-year-old girl that was
    electrocuted on a miniature golf course in Florida.

    b) Article 210.8(A): In the video, Joe did not mention in which room the
    receptacle was being replaced, the room governing whether or not the
    receptacle must be replaced by one which is GFCI controlled despite the
    absence of an equipment grounding conductor (EGC): bathrooms, garages,
    outdoors, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, kitchens, within 6ft of a
    sink, boathouses, swimming pools.

    c) Receptacle testers are cheap and should be used to verify the metal
    outlet box is actually grounded, for example, “GE 50542 3-wire Receptacle
    Tester” is a great choice. However, much more expense testers like Ideal’s
    61-165 will tell you if a bootleg ground exist, an EGC jumped-to-ground (or
    neutral) conductor.

    d) Article 406.4(D)(2)(b)-(c): A grounding-type (three-prong) receptacle
    can be supported by a two-wire system if the receptacle is GFCI or GFCI

    e) Article 250.126(1): In electrical, everything has a purpose and although
    the bolt that Joe used, in the video, to terminate the EGC on the outlet
    box appears to work, it is not code; it should be a green colored hexagonal
    head screw even if it means adding a 10-32 tap to the outlet box for it.
    Ultimately, if you use a GFCI controlled receptacle on a two-wire system,
    you should not hook up an EGC to the receptacle, referring again to article

    f) Joe posted, “why in the old days, would they even consider making 2
    prong outlets?” For a three-prong appliance, their case can be energized if
    an ungrounded (a hot) connector comes in contact with the case. The third
    prong and EGC are designed to carry that current back to the main panel
    instead of through you, possibly killing you simply by touching the
    appliance. Two-prong appliances are not designed with a case which can be

    g) Article 406.4(D)(2)(b)-(c): Freddie posted, “I used my label maker to
    print some labels that say (UNGROUNDED) and affixed them to the cover
    plate.” The correct wording is “No Equipment Ground,” additionally “GFCI
    Protected” for ground-type receptacles controlled by GFCI.

    h) Article 394.10: Walter posted, “Unless the house is wired with knob and
    tube (which would require a complete rewiring of the house).” This is
    simply not true. The electrical code permits the modification of existing
    knob-and-tube systems.

    Finally, DIY is legal to do; however, to my knowledge, you can be held
    liable if a future owner suffers a loss as a result of your work. If a
    licensed/bounded electrical contractor does the work, you are legally in
    the clear. At a minimum, consider having your electrical work inspected;
    who knows the life you save may be your own.

  11. territodude says:

    I’m sure you are a nice person but giving electrical advice when you
    obviously are not well educated in that area can be potentially dangerous
    to those who mistake you for someone who is.

  12. da bu says:

    OMG a non-grounded mystery ground situation! Metal box wood stud,
    conductor insulator no ground. YOU”LL find out!!!!

  13. itdoesntmatter56789 says:

    Some old home (1940’s) in my area had all of the cabling going through a
    metal conduit to each box. The metal conduit was grounded. 

  14. Greg Avakian says:

    This video is filled with bad advice. As an electrician, I strongly advice
    viewers to go elsewhere. Where wires are attached to a receptacle is not
    decided by “which side” they are on. There is a place for the hot and
    Grounding an outlet to the box is NOT grounding UNLESS the box is GROUNDED.
    You need to TEST to know that. It is useless to connect the wire to the
    box if the box is not grounded.
    There is plenty of stuff in this video that is inaccurate.

  15. William Dizon says:

    joe you are stupid that’s not a screw for ground….

  16. christian funes says:

    As i am watching ur video i am falling sleep dud u talk to much no alot of
    action speed it up a bit 

  17. Cammie Hines says:

    As much as I wanted to believe I could do this to all of my outlets and
    “ground” them while updating to 3-prong, I checked with my electrician and
    he said NO WAY, NOT SAFE, NOT TO CODE. My home dates 1941 and although the
    “house” is grounded, all of our outlets are 2-prong and ungrounded. He
    said the ONLY way to make them code would be to rewire the house, grounding
    them back to the panel. He said for our convenience he would change them
    to 3-prong for our use, but if we sold the house we would have to change
    them all back to 2-prong, as they would fail inspection. 

  18. iis4isaac says:

    This is terribly unsafe advice. You should delete this video before
    someone gets injured using this advice. 

  19. Robert w Sieburg says:

    If you are going to teach. Know what the blank you are talking about.
    Are you trying to hurt someone?
    Or are you just making a bunch of noise , so you feel like your special.

  20. Sky Patt says:

    I’m trying to check to see if an outlet in an older house is grounded, just
    wanted to say thanks for the great visuals! I have a better idea of what
    I’m looking for now. 🙂 

  21. kw0s says:

    Holycow, ground to the metal electrical box only? That is a lot of work and
    will do not good, or no ground. A GFCI will take care of this situation.

  22. Jeff Lebowski says:

    Yeah this video is worthless, grounding to the box is only useful if the
    branch is grounded. In fact it’s against code to convert a two prong outlet
    to a three prong outlet unless there’s a ground. Use a GFCI outlet when in
    doubt and buy a ground tester, a ground tester has three lights and tells
    you if it’s wired correctly.

  23. Larry Bell says:

    I just lost about 12 minutes of my life that i’ll never get back.

  24. Iworkprorenata says:

    You are an idiot. I would give you credit though if you had titled the
    video “how to waste time bonding a receptacle to a box for no benefit.”

  25. P Nark says:

    You did exactly as required by electrical code; if not supply by romex,
    grounding conductor must be bond directly to the box. Even in the older
    homes the 120/220 outlet is ground as required by code (lighting ckt come
    later). They didn’t have 3-prong outlet till after WWII so if owner has
    refrig or motor, the instruction were to run a separate ground-wire to the
    center of outlet. Btw, ground tester can be purchase for $5. Touch white
    wire to the box then from main test with ohm meter is another way to test
    for ground. There’s no grounding rod in older home just a bonding cable to
    water pipe.