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Brian
Brian, Architect
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Licensed Architect- 17 years
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when wiring a recepticle can you hook the green wire to the ...

Customer Question

when wiring a recepticle can you hook the green wire to the white one to ground the whole thing
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Brian replied 6 years ago.

HelloCustomer

Welcome to Just Answer.

When wiring a receptacle, the bare copper wire gets attached to the green screw on the receptacle, gets grounded to the box, and gets connected to the bare wire leaving the box and NOT the white wire. The white wire is the neutral wire and gets fastened to the silver screw. See diagram below.

graphic

 

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Thanks for asking your question at Just Answer.

Best of Luck, Brian

 

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Reply to Brian's Post: I know what wires go where. My question is, if I hook the ground to the white wire will the receptacle then be grounded.
Expert:  Brian replied 6 years ago.

It is not allowed because if a neutral wire became disconnected, the return path for electric current could be along a ground wire. While that itself may not be a hazard, if that ground wire also became disconnected somewhere, parts of the ground system could be energized. That's not EVER supposed to happen.

The neutral wire is a "low-risk" return path for the electric current in that branch of the system. All of the neutral wires all have the same electrical potential... nothing. At least, no potential compared to ground. There is, of course, 120 volts of potential difference between a neutral wire and any hot wire in the residential system.

If you touched the metal part of a live neutral wire you should not receive a shock. (But don't try it!) By tying the neutral to ground at one point, half of the conductors (in a typical 120 volt circuit) have no dangerous electrical potential. Of course, the hot wires are still dangerous.

 

 

 

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm trying to hook up a surge protector in an old house with no grounds. An electrician that I know told me to run a wire from the green screw to the white wire screw and that would serve as a ground on that outlet Is that not right and or dangerous.
Expert:  Brian replied 6 years ago.

Do you have 2 prong outlets or are you saying that you have 3 prong without any ground wire?

Also, are you installing a GFCI or an actual surge protective device?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Reply to Brian's Post: I have a 3 prong receptacle with no ground wire in the house. the surge protector requires that it be grounded.He told me to just hook a wire from the green screw on the receptacle to the white wire screw and it would work, I just was looking for a little more assurance before I did it.
Expert:  Brian replied 6 years ago.

I think it could be potentially dangerous.

There are several ways to address this problem. If the wiring is done through conduit or BX cable and the conduit is continuous back to the service panel, you can connect the new receptacle to the metal receptacle box.

If there is a metallic cold water pipe going nearby, and you're sure it's electrically continuous to the main house ground point, you can run a conductor to it from the third ground wire terminal connection. Another wiring safety procedure would be to run a ground wire back to the service panel.

The easiest solution might be to install a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacle. The ground lug should not be connected to anything, but the GFCI protection itself will serve as the protection. The NEC requires those three-prong receptacles without a ground that are protected by GFCI must be labeled as such.

 

 

 

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Best of Luck, Brian

 

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Brian, Architect
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3033
Experience: Licensed Architect- 17 years
Brian and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Brian replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for the accept.

I just wanted to add some additional information based on what you told me:

If all of your receptacles are 3-prong without grounds you should the following to meet code: All of your circuits must be protected. You can do this one of two ways: Either the first receptacle on each circuit must be a GFCI and properly connected, which will protect the remaining receptacles on that circuit (these will need to be labeled), or install GFI breakers at the panel to protect each circuit.

Expert:  Brian replied 6 years ago.

I need to clarify my answer:

You cannot ground the receptacle by the following:

  • If the wiring is done through conduit or BX cable and the conduit is continuous back to the service panel, you can connect the new receptacle to the metal receptacle box.
  • If there is a metallic cold water pipe going nearby, and you're sure it's electrically continuous to the main house ground point, you can run a conductor to it from the third ground wire terminal connection. Another wiring safety procedure would be to run a ground wire back to the service panel.

The only thing accepted by todays code is installing a GFCI at the receptacle.

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