What to Do with Ground Wire if No Ground (Expert-Approved Advice)

There are lots of places where there is no proper implementation of a ground connection. What that means is that the outlets are not sending the extra charge that they get from the powerlines back into the grid. Instead, they are constantly holding their maximum power charge which makes them live.

It is also possible to face this problem if you are using wiring with grounding but there is no place to connect the ground wire.

In this article, we will be sharing with you some key steps that will tell you everything you need to do to overcome that problem effectively. After all, not taking care of electrical ground issues can lead to many serious problems.

In the case that you do not have a point to connect your ground wire, you need to change the receptacle and replace it with one that comes with the proper ground connection. Also, ensure that you have a metal box to connect the ground to along with a source to carry the ground charge away from the outlet.

1. Confirm That the Electrical Circuit Contains No Ground Connection

Before you can go about implementing a solution for connecting a ground to your outlets, you will need to check the current state of the wiring in your building. The most common question that arises is what if there is no ground wire in the outlet. Opening the electrical circuit behind any outlet should tell you exactly what you need to know regarding this question. In the case where no electrical ground is available, you should only find two wires connected to the outlet.

3 prong outlet

In the case where you are trying to install grounding to an old outlet, you will find the grounding point missing from the receptacle. However, it is also possible that you are trying to use an existing receptacle and the ground connection is simply not present because of damage sustained by the receptacle itself over the years. Regardless of what the case might be, you need to get your hands on a receptacle that can properly ground the electrical connections and has a dedicated spot for the ground wire.

2. Buying the Correct Receptacle for Connecting Ground Wires

There are a lot of different electrical receptacle designs that you can get your hands on these days. Each of these has its own application and there are some that do not include a ground connection at all because they simply do not need it. However, in most cases, grounding the outlet is necessary and you need a place where you can connect the ground black wire.

inside of an outlet with connected wires

Thankfully, a lot of information is available regarding the outlets that you are buying, and you can even identify the specific model that you may need. Find a model that has a dedicated point for connecting the ground black wire. Some options also come with a metal box enclosure for the receptacle, and you need to connect the ground wire to the metal box instead of the receptacle itself.

3. The Correct Wiring Method for Grounding an Ungrounded Electrical Receptacle

You may primarily be focusing on how you can add a ground wire to your electrical circuitry in most cases. However, some users might also be faced with a situation where the wiring they have is correct, but the receptacle does not have the correct points for connecting a grounding wire. While you could go and get yourself a new outlet to make things easy, it does not necessarily need to be an expensive fix. Instead of investing in a new receptacle, you could also introduce a metal box to the outlet’s position.

3-prong electrical outlet

With the red live wire and neutral black wire connected to the outlet, you could connect the ground wires in all your outlets to a metal box that can be used as an enclosure for the receptacle itself. This helps dissipate the electricity directly into the ground and keeps the outlet clear of any charge. However, depending on your construction and electrical installation, you may need to add an additional grounding wire that takes charge away from the box and all the way to the ground. Typically, such things are needed when installing outlets on the upper floors of a building without proper grounding infrastructure.

4. Mounting the Electrical Receptacle in the Box & Installing the Cover Plate

Now that you are all done with the wiring of the receptacle, it is time to install it into the wall properly. In the case where you choose to use a metal box, you will already have a mounting solution with you and all you will need to do is fix it into the wall where the outlet is to be installed. However, a lot of new wiring installations these days prefer using plastic boxes as enclosures. They are not capable of conducting electricity and are meant to be a safer alternative to metal boxes. However, this is only possible with receptacles that come with a grounding wire connection built in.

Whether you need to connect the ground wire to the receptacle itself or add it to the metallic box enclosure, you need to put them into their place and ensure they are flush with the wall. One thing to keep in mind here is that you will still need to leave the top of the receptacle a bit outside if the cover plate you have is to be installed with clips.

different type of outlets on wall

Install the plastic cover plate to hide all electrical components and live parts completely and slowly push the entire box inward until it becomes completely flush with the wall. The cover plate will be sticking out of the wall as this will allow you to easily access the receptacle if you ever need to do so in the future.

Preventing Short Circuits

One thing to keep in mind when using metal boxes as enclosures for electrical receptacles is that they are prone to shorting if not installed properly. While a tight fix can prevent that from happening, you can still never be too careful. One common practice that many electricians even swear by is covering the terminal screws on the receptacle with electrical tape. This creates a barrier between the screws and the metal interface of the enclosure and prevents a short circuit from happening. With plastic boxes that only have the armored cable providing the grounding, this problem is less prone to happen. (1)

Useful Tips and Wrapping Up

Working with electrical outlets is a tricky thing, to say the least. They can be quite volatile and lead to severe problems if you are not careful. One rule that we like to preach when dealing with anything electrical is to check twice before taking any step. Cutting on the wrong wire or making a wrong connection can quickly turn into a serious problem for you.  The obvious financial loss put aside, being unfortunate enough to get shocked by a live wire can also cause serious injuries and in some cases, death. (2)

Only work with electrical outlets and live wires if you completely understand the basic concepts behind them and are fully aware of the circuitry in your building. As for the components used, we strongly recommend using high-quality products only as going cheap on the materials can lead to bigger issues down the line.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) metal interface – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/
(2) financial loss – https://www.forbes.com/sites/top-financial-security-professional/2022/04/25/strategies-for-recovering-from-financial-loss/

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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