Old wall wiring with no ground wire-Can I add a ground to the metal box?-Also Outlets are upside down

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Hamberg

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I would never do that. All that accomplishes is fooling a tester and if an inspector was to pull the cover plate and see that he would likely flip out on you. It is so simple to go get a GFCI outlet and pop it in and do it correctly and you are only saving a couple bucks.
Even worse! if that outlet was on a properly wired sub-panel you could, as they say, light up someone's world!
 

Sparky617

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@Sparky617 - that is the FIRST logical explanation I have EVER heard!!! I've had this argument a 100 times and the only answer I ever got was; "that is how I was taught."

My reply, and contention, has always been (in residential, which is what we do) the reason the ground is at the bottom is, the most likely case (for grounding) would be the room filling with water! Short (no pun intended) of your explanation about a metal cover plate, no one had ever given me a legit reply.
This could be a issue on an outlet mounted on a piece of machinery that vibrates. Dad was an industrial electrician for about 30 years. He did moonlighting on residential. In residential I think most people want to see the 'face' and if it is ground up it looks wrong to them. You don't see a lot of metal cover plates used in residential wiring, but they are out there, especially for handy boxes. Unless required otherwise you'll find most residential electricians use plastic boxes and Romex instead of metal and conduit or MC cable. Chicago being a notable exception, the Electricians Union has been able to write the local requirements.
 

bud16415

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This could be a issue on an outlet mounted on a piece of machinery that vibrates. Dad was an industrial electrician for about 30 years. He did moonlighting on residential. In residential I think most people want to see the 'face' and if it is ground up it looks wrong to them. You don't see a lot of metal cover plates used in residential wiring, but they are out there, especially for handy boxes. Unless required otherwise you'll find most residential electricians use plastic boxes and Romex instead of metal and conduit or MC cable. Chicago being a notable exception, the Electricians Union has been able to write the local requirements.
When I first started designing and building industrial equipment 40 years ago OSHA was not much of a thing and there were lots of cheap one piece metal boxes attached to machines and it was common to make extension cords from wire a box and outlet and a plug. We had a guy running a lathe and leaning on a file during a cut resting the point of the file on the knockout of the box mounted to his lathe. The knockout pushed out and he got quite a surprise when his file shorted out what was inside. For the next few months they were welding knockouts up on machines and extension cords, until some rules came along that no homemade cords and any boxes had to be the solid type with screw in plugs NEMA whatever they are. They banded them over 30 years ago and every safety inspection I did right up to retirement we would find one of those old cords pop up.

When I was building my garage workshop I wanted outlets everyplace and I used plastic boxes and plastic covers. I did think about metal covers but didn’t want to pay extra for them. I did get the bendy ones compared to that brittle old type. No rust.
 

Eddie_T

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For a while I saw new houses in my area with ground post on top. I installed one that way in my hallway and I have to remember it every time I use it for the vacuum. I think the fad's over and things are back to normal.

For kicks I measured voltage from a receptacle over my bathroom sink to the faucet. It was 70v to the faucet and 30v if I held the probe in my hand. Plumbing is PVC so that was the water conduction . I was surprised that it read 30v on me as my Sketchers have thick soles and I was standing on ceramic tile. I didn't try the finger test to see if I could feel it. Most people think electricity is seeking the shortest path to ground, in reality it's taking all paths to the secondary of the utility transformer.
 
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68bucks

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All the outlets in my house are installed ground up for some stupid reason. I have changed a lot of them but there are still a few left. It's basically a pain in the butt. There are lot of things that have a right angle plug and every one of them are upside down when in use. I'm sure there are some things that are the other way but none that we own. They also used double pole breakers for all the circuits for some reason. One side feeds one circuit and the other pole is a different circuit.
 

afjes_2016

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All the outlets in my house are installed ground up for some stupid reason. I have changed a lot of them but there are still a few left. It's basically a pain in the butt. There are lot of things that have a right angle plug and every one of them are upside down when in use. I'm sure there are some things that are the other way but none that we own. They also used double pole breakers for all the circuits for some reason. One side feeds one circuit and the other pole is a different circuit.
There are valid reasons for installing receptacles with the ground facing up and they are not stupid. Maybe not as favorable in a home environment but there are reasons for doing it. Some call it up-side-down but there is no right side up or down with a receptacle. Both will meet code.

Using double pole breakers and having two circuits is also used in a home environment. Maybe not as favorable as other ways. It is called a MWBC (multi wire branch circuit) - Google it. This is also an acceptable way of wiring circuits and does meet code as long as they are installed properly and it seems yours were if they are using double pole breakers.
 

BuzzLOL

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For a while I saw new houses in my area with ground post on top.

For kicks I measured voltage ... 30v if I held the probe in my hand.
With ground down, any conductor that falls across the parallel pins of a plug stays there and causes a short... with ground up, conductors falling across the ground pin will prolly slide off and 50% chance they slide to hot side causing short... or to neutral side doing nothing...
Sensitive volt meters will read a voltage to a dry ungrounded animal body from a 120 volt circuit but current flow is about zilch...
 

bud16415

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With ground down, any conductor that falls across the parallel pins of a plug stays there and causes a short... with ground up, conductors falling across the ground pin will prolly slide off and 50% chance they slide to hot side causing short... or to neutral side doing nothing...
Sensitive volt meters will read a voltage to a dry ungrounded animal body from a 120 volt circuit but current flow is about zilch...
The counter would be with ground down the chance of a wet or sweaty index finger touching the hot post when plugging or unplugging is lessened. The only metal object I can think of would be a cover plate if the screw had come out and rarely are metal cover plates used in homes.
 

Eddie_T

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I am no youngster and I have yet to experience a cover plate screw coming out. Come to think of it I have never experienced an appliance with a hot chassis other than 5 tube wonder radios that used to be common. I only had one GFCI experience and it was a GFCI plug on a PTHP and I lifted the green wire for a fix as the chassis wasn't hot.

When I wired my house I made a mistake with an extension cord and wired some circuits with the neutral being temporarily hot. I never experienced a shock even sitting or kneeling on the concrete slab. I didn't realize my mistake until I started to use the panel to feed completed circuits and blew the female end off that extension cord. I had used a short piece of romex to connect the cord female end to a receptacle w/o twisting (thus reversing hot and neutral).
 
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Eddie_T

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Using double pole breakers and having two circuits is also used in a home environment. Maybe not as favorable as other ways. It is called a MWBC (multi wire branch circuit) - Google it. This is also an acceptable way of wiring circuits and does meet code as long as they are installed properly and it seems yours were if they are using double pole breakers.
I considered doing that in my kitchen so that the required two circuits could be represented at each receptacle but I didn't do it. Inevitably it seems that coffee maker and griddle end up on same receptacle but I've never had a breaker trip.
 

afjes_2016

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Ground prong up is actually maybe safer. If you remove/pull a plug from a receptacle properly which is grabbing hold of the plug itself and not the wire you will see that your thumb will overlap your other fingers (thumb top of plug and other fingers below plug). When your thumb overlaps it will overlap the end of the plastic on the plug and could touch both the hot and neutral prongs at the same time. With the ground installed facing up your thumb is far more likely to only touch the ground prong. But I guess people like the smiley faces being right side up better. :thumb:

As far as any single pole switches installed where the "Off" and "On" are reversed my electrical instructor always said that on that type of switch if you are installing it so the "ON" becomes a "NO" you have it upside down :eek: Also the screws on a single pole switch are normally on the right side of the switch.
 
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BuzzLOL

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The counter would be with ground down the chance of a wet or sweaty index finger touching the hot post when plugging or unplugging is lessened. The only metal object I can think of would be a cover plate if the screw had come out and rarely are metal cover plates used in homes.
You must be left/sinister handed... ground down puts the hot side on the right and we right handed people push plugs in with our index finger on the right side of it...
 

bud16415

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You must be left/sinister handed... ground down puts the hot side on the right and we right handed people push plugs in with our index finger on the right side of it...
No I’m right handed and I didn’t have a three prong handy but this is how I hold a plug or could hold a plug putting my index finger in the path of current. This plug was a toaster and it has a raised area around the base to warn you not to do this. The small 2 prong like on lamps have a small insulated base and most 3 prongs don’t have the raised area. With the ground pin on the bottom the index finger can slide under the base but not get near the hot prong. For the thumb to wrap around and come down to the prongs is pretty hard to do. Try it. IMG_2158.jpg
 

BuzzLOL

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...your thumb will overlap your other fingers (thumb top of plug and other fingers below plug). When your thumb overlaps it will overlap the end of the plastic on the plug and could touch both the hot and neutral prongs at the same time. With the ground installed facing up your thumb is far more likely to only touch the ground prong.
Didn't realize people had so many ways of pushing/pulling plugs... I usually have thumb tip on left side, index finger tip on right side... exception is those small flat plugs with tapered sides and then use tips on top and bottom... I avoid wrapping fingers/hand around plugs, I want to be able to see just what is happening with most of my full hand out of the way... such as is the plug coming apart? Is the outlet coming apart?
 

BuzzLOL

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No I’m right handed and I didn’t have a three prong handy but this is how I hold a plug or could hold a plug putting my index finger in the path of current.
WOW !!! ... I would never put my thumb or finger ahead of the insulated part of a plug like that !!!
BTW, the smaller slot on the right is the HOT side...
 

bud16415

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Didn't realize people had so many ways of pushing/pulling plugs... I usually have thumb tip on left side, index finger tip on right side... exception is those small flat plugs with tapered sides and then use tips on top and bottom... I avoid wrapping fingers/hand around plugs, I want to be able to see just what is happening with most of my full hand out of the way... such as is the plug coming apart? Is the outlet coming apart?
Look at any plug the manufacture puts ridges for grips on the top and bottom and quite often have a taper on the sides. The ergonomics of the plug design is very well evolved. I never would grab one other than by the larger flatter surfaces where it is easiest to grip.
 

bud16415

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WOW !!! ... I would never put my thumb or finger ahead of the insulated part of a plug like that !!!
BTW, the smaller slot on the right is the HOT side...
I wouldn’t ether and my picture was taken to show that it can move into that position not that it should.



Point is it is quite hard to get your thumb to come over the top and around to contact a prong and it is quite easy to have your index finger forward with a stubborn plug or slippery fingers.



Face it in the perfect world we wouldn’t be cooking dinner and plugging in a mixer or working on our car and plugging in a grinder. We would do what high voltage industrial plugs do and they will not plug or unplug with the disconnect closed.

120v home outlets are relatively safe. The biggest danger is kids sticking things into the openings. Not many people have issues and places where issues could happen should have GFCI. But a lot of older homes and garages don’t.
 

bud16415

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Just looked at my plugs, nearly all are of the larger style whether have 2 or 3 prongs and I do them from the sides with finger tips...
Here is what all mine look like top and bottom have gripper serrations and greater surface area sides are smooth and shinny and tapered and difficult to grip.IMG_2160.jpg
 

Eddie_T

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I didn't know what I do. I went into the kitchen and found that my normal is thumb on top and index underneath or thumb to the left and index to the right. I've never been shocked by a plug so it's a non issue.
 

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