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How to Ground Outlets and Receptacles


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Here are some Electrical Tip for Home Outlets – Metal receptacle outlet boxes must be grounded, and one method is to pigtail the ground wire so that it is attached to the outlet and the metal outlet box using a Green grounding Screw.


Methods for Grounding Receptacle Outlets

Electrical Question: I recently set out to replace the almond 3-prong outlets in our new-to-us-home (built 1971) with white outlets.

  • This is partially for cosmetic reasons, and partially because some outlets had been painted over by the previous owners and were unusable.
  • As I was replacing the first outlet, I noticed there was no ground wire to connect to the new outlet.
  • According to the home inspection report, the wiring is Romex and was marked as being 3-prong and grounded.
  • I also picked up an outlet tester which indicated that the wiring was “correct” instead of listing on of the possible faults.
  • My understanding is that the metal boxes are likely grounded, and therefore if we pigtail a ground wire from the outlet to the box we’ll be OK. Is this correct?

This electrical wiring question came from: Sonja, a Homeowner from Andover, Massachusetts.
See more about Home Wiring for Massachusetts

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Sonja.

How to Ground Receptacle Outlets

  • Sonja, yes you are correct. Metal receptacle outlet boxes must be grounded, and one method is to pigtail the ground wire so that it is attached to the outlet and the metal outlet box using a Green grounding Screw.
  • Here are some Electrical Tip for Home Outlets

  • Use a Plug In Circuit Analyzer to check to make sure your outlets are grounded and wired correctly.
  • Do not paint over outlets or switches.
  • Use masking tape to prevent painting.

More about Receptacles and Pig Tail Wiring for Outlets:

I am Trying to Replace 2-Prong Receptacles with a 3-Prong.
When I opened the cover plate I see 2 black wires and 2 whites withing a metal box. Can it still be done with the 3 prong receptacle? Can I just pigtail a wire from the receptacle ground to the box?
I was expecting 1 black and 1 white, so don’t know what it means to have 2 of each.
Please help and give me some guidelines. Thanks.

This home electrical repairs question came from: Norman, from Chattanooga, Tennessee

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Norman.
Norman, yes – you can pigtail the black and white wires to wire to a receptacle, however you cannot install a 3-prong grounded outlet if there is no ground wire.

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For more information about Outlet Wiring
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