20 AMP Plugs

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stungerz
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20 AMP Plugs

Post by stungerz » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:51 pm

Here is a curveball topic topic change.

I was replacing an outlet in my kitchen and it is on a 20amp breaker, 12 Gauge wire, 15 amp outlet. I took a look throughout my place and the setup is consistent with this. There isn't a 20 amp outlet, which has a horizontal blade for the hot side.

Question for the group:
What appliance/tool/thingy-ma-jig actual has a 20 amp plug? I've never seen one. Here is what one looks like:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-20- ... /301304838

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:54 pm

I've seen some on some industrial devices in my workplace. I don't believe I've ever seen one on a consumer device.
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jebmke
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by jebmke » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:54 pm

I seem to recall a window air conditioner with a plug like that. Was a while ago so can't be sure.
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9liner
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by 9liner » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:55 pm

Heavy draw appliances may be equipped with a 20 amp plug.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by FrugalInvestor » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:59 pm

Here's a discussion on the topic found through a google search....

https://forums.redflagdeals.com/20-amp- ... d-1076436/

From the site above:
The only 20A kitchen appliances i've seen are tabletop ovens and microwaves. You can tell from the plug. It looks like " -|".
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adamthesmythe
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:08 pm

I think I had a few in the lab. I have not seen them on home appliances. If they are used on consumer appliances they are rare.

Now once you get into 220/ 208 V...there are more plugs out there than are dreamed of in your philosophy.

AE81
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by AE81 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:35 pm

My refrigerator is on a 20 amp breaker but has a “standard” outlet. I thought that is the way it’s usually done to accommodate the compressor starting load. I am not an electrician nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. :wink:

tommy85
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by tommy85 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:06 pm

Our electric range had 20 amps plug but don't remember if it had that horizontal pin.

robphoto
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by robphoto » Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:15 pm

I know some big window air conditioners use it. Some 2000 watt photography lights had that plug. The outlets have a slot on one side like a sideways "T" to accommodate both regular and 20 amp plugs .

Here's a picture of the outlet:https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-20- ... /202066702

batpot
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by batpot » Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:40 pm

Nice to have 20 amps in your kitchen and garage/workshop if you end up running a lot of things off of that circuit, even if the plugs are all 15 amp.

tev9876
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by tev9876 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:46 pm

15 amp receptacles can pass through 20 amps to downstream outlets without issue so you don't have to use the 20 amp receptacles with the horizontal blade if you won't be using 15-20 amp devices. Think about running the toaster and blender at the same time. Neither needs more than 15 amps individually so regular plugs are fine, but combined they would likely exceed 15 so code is to use 20 amp circuits in kitchens. IIRC code also requires two 20 amp counter circuits to split these heavy loads in case you are also running the electric skillet and air fryer. Same with bathrooms for curling irons and hair dryers.

When I rewired my garage I did include at least one 20 amp outlet with the horizontal blade just in case I ever want to run a mini arc welder or something like this: https://www.harborfreight.com/80-amp-in ... 64057.html

lucky_tech_guy
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by lucky_tech_guy » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:51 am

My Wolf steam oven uses a 20A plug with a horizontal pin.

ralph124cf
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by ralph124cf » Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:49 am

The primary reason for the 20 amp design receptacle is to let you know at a glance which outlets will allow up to twenty amps draw. Fifteen amp outlets will work with the twenty amp draw, and are cheaper, so many contractors and home builders use them if the homeowner is unaware of the difference.

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Swivelguy
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Swivelguy » Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:06 am

I think maybe there is some confusion between amp ratings and plug shapes.

20 amps is just a number. You can use any shape plug and outlet that you want for any number of amps, as long as the parts are rated to safely pass that current. In some cases, appliances that draw high amperage may come with a different plug shape, to prevent the user from connecting them to an outlet or circuit with an insufficient rating, but there is no guarantee that it will be that way.

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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by jebmke » Thu Apr 30, 2020 7:52 am

Swivelguy wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:06 am
I think maybe there is some confusion between amp ratings and plug shapes.

20 amps is just a number. You can use any shape plug and outlet that you want for any number of amps, as long as the parts are rated to safely pass that current. In some cases, appliances that draw high amperage may come with a different plug shape, to prevent the user from connecting them to an outlet or circuit with an insufficient rating, but there is no guarantee that it will be that way.
Years ago I was traveling with one of my companies service engineers. I asked him if he had a spare plug converter (I think we were in Hong Kong at the time). He pulled out a standard US 110V outlet with a pigtail on it. The ends of the two wires had alligator clips. He proceeded to insert two screw drivers into the socket and clipped the alligator clips on the screwdriver shaft and said "there you go."
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HomeStretch
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by HomeStretch » Thu Apr 30, 2020 7:56 am

jebmke wrote:
Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:54 pm
I seem to recall a window air conditioner with a plug like that. Was a while ago so can't be sure.
+1 at my house for an old large window AC unit when we moved in.

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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:22 am

AFAIK

Beyond NEC Code, 15 amp vs 20 amp outlets vs branch circuits are planned per anticipated use as well.
IE: My shop has a max 5-7 20 amp outlets per 20 amp circuit and one each 20 and 30 amp dedicated to my shop welder, compressor, etc.
IE: The washing machine outlet, though not a 20 amp blade design, in many homes is on a dedicated or low outlet/circuit.
IE: In the "old days" there might be as much as 12 x 15 amp floor outlets in a residence, (I've found more) on a single circuit. That has gone down to max 10, and less in the field depending on the project.

It is safest to only replace receptacles with whatever was installed in the lst place regardless of what the breaker amp. is.
IE: if the original outlet receptacle does not have a "ground" (3 prong) in an older building, then it has to be replaced with the existing 2 prong only with no ground. (tenants do this wrongly on thier own!)

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ironman
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by ironman » Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:48 am

A 20 amp rated circuit requires a 20 amp receptacle when the receptacle is the only receptacle on the circuit (Reference 2017 NFPA 70 Article 210.21(B)(1)). The code calls this an "individual branch circuit".

It is important to realize that receptacles are installed without knowledge of the loads that will be plugged into them by occupants. Any appliance that draws enough amps to require a 20 amp receptacle will be designed with a plug (male end) that has a horizontal blade to reject use in a 15 amp receptacle.

Either 15 amp or 20 amp rated receptacles are permitted on a 20 amp rated circuit (Reference 2017 NFPA 70 Table 210.21(B)(3)). In addition, no cord connected appliance not fastened in place shall draw no more than 16 amps of current (80%) on a 20 amp circuit (Reference 2017 NFPA 70 Article 210.23(A)(1)).

Electrical Code aside, I installed 20 amp spec grade receptacles in my garage for air compressors and tables saws due to their heavier construction. I would not waste the money on 20 amp interior receptacles.

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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:02 am

ironman wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:48 am
A 20 amp rated circuit requires a 20 amp receptacle when the receptacle is the only receptacle on the circuit (Reference 2017 NFPA 70 Article 210.21(B)(1)). The code calls this an "individual branch circuit".

It is important to realize that receptacles are installed without knowledge of the loads that will be plugged into them by occupants. Any appliance that draws enough amps to require a 20 amp receptacle will be designed with a plug (male end) that has a horizontal blade to reject use in a 15 amp receptacle.

Either 15 amp or 20 amp rated receptacles are permitted on a 20 amp rated circuit (Reference 2017 NFPA 70 Table 210.21(B)(3)). In addition, no cord connected appliance not fastened in place shall draw no more than 16 amps of current (80%) on a 20 amp circuit (Reference 2017 NFPA 70 Article 210.23(A)(1)).

Electrical Code aside, I installed 20 amp spec grade receptacles in my garage for air compressors and tables saws due to their heavier construction. I would not waste the money on 20 amp interior receptacles.
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hicabob
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by hicabob » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:11 am

My demolition jack-hammer requires one too. I use an adapter for it.
https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Listed-5 ... NrPXRydWU=

MrDrinkingWater
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by MrDrinkingWater » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:43 am

I was confused a little the other day, so I looked at a NEMA chart that had all the different receptacles.

For example, NEMA 5-15 is what you see in most rooms of an apartment or house for 125 Volt 15 Amp service.

In some rooms within some homes, you will see a NEMA 5-20 T-Slot, which is a 125 Volt 20 Amp receptacle. It does look like your plug works in that receptacle perfectly.

The NEMA chart I reviewed had a wide variety of different receptacles. For example, electric ranges and electric dryers would likely have different plugs that connects to either a NEMA 6-20 receptacle, or NEMA 6-30 receptacle, or NEMA 6-50 receptacle, which are for 250 V 20 Amp, 250 V 30 Amp and 250 V 50 Amp appliances, respectively.

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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by RetiredAL » Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:41 am

One thing I'd like to point out to the casual readers of this thread, is to never use the outlet's terminals as splice connectors. Years ago this was often done and the practice became forbidden by code. Always use pigtails to the outlet from the splice connector (wire nuts). Why? The circuit is 20 amp and the common outlet is only rated for 15 amp. The accumulation of all the downstream loads could exceed 15 amp in an upstream outlet and cause overheating. If you find an outlet acting as the splice, it's likely the whole house is wired that way.

kevinf
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by kevinf » Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:54 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:22 am
...It is safest to only replace receptacles with whatever was installed in the lst place regardless of what the breaker amp. is.
IE: if the original outlet receptacle does not have a "ground" (3 prong) in an older building, then it has to be replaced with the existing 2 prong only with no ground. (tenants do this wrongly on thier own!)...
This is not quite accurate. My home has 2 wire along the shared wall, which meant the original outlets were 2-prong no ground. Code allows replacing them with GFCI outlets to enable 3-prong devices to plug in, but the outlet must be labeled as "GFCI no ground." The GFCI is still functional without a ground wire and will trip on a fault.

A GFCI outlet is definitely a safer option than a 2-prong outlet. I'd advise putting in some GFCI outlets for your tenants to modernize their living space and allow them to use 3-prong devices so you don't get any more self-made handymen installing ungrounded 3-prong outlets.

EddyB
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by EddyB » Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:31 pm

My (dual boiler) espresso machine has a 20 amp plug.

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Sandtrap
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:31 pm

kevinf wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:54 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:22 am
...It is safest to only replace receptacles with whatever was installed in the lst place regardless of what the breaker amp. is.
IE: if the original outlet receptacle does not have a "ground" (3 prong) in an older building, then it has to be replaced with the existing 2 prong only with no ground. (tenants do this wrongly on thier own!)...
This is not quite accurate. My home has 2 wire along the shared wall, which meant the original outlets were 2-prong no ground. Code allows replacing them with GFCI outlets to enable 3-prong devices to plug in, but the outlet must be labeled as "GFCI no ground." The GFCI is still functional without a ground wire and will trip on a fault.

A GFCI outlet is definitely a safer option than a 2-prong outlet. I'd advise putting in some GFCI outlets for your tenants to modernize their living space and allow them to use 3-prong devices so you don't get any more self-made handymen installing ungrounded 3-prong outlets.
Thanks.
That's good to know.
(as if tenants read labels. . . . :shock: :shock: )
The older 2 prong no ground receptacles can only be had at the supply houses so I've bought them in bulk for one of my buildings.
Also didn't know that GFCI's work without a ground wire. Interesting.

Thanks again,
j :happy
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kevinf
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by kevinf » Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:45 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:31 pm
Thanks.
That's good to know.
(as if tenants read labels. . . . :shock: :shock: )
The older 2 prong no ground receptacles can only be had at the supply houses so I've bought them in bulk for one of my buildings.
Also didn't know that GFCI's work without a ground wire. Interesting.

Thanks again,
j :happy
The GFCI senses the difference in potential between the hot and neutral lines in order to do its work, the ground wire is simply there to prevent devices from becoming energized in the case of a ground fault and has no bearing on the function of the circuit interrupter.

Do note that you only need one GFCI per circuit at the very first receptacle location in the circuit. Everything downstream connected via the LOAD connectors on the GFCI outlet will be GFCI protected as well so you can use standard 3-prong outlets for the remaining receptacles. However, every outlet downstream must be visibly labeled GFCI NO GROUND. Most GFCI outlets come with several such stickers in the box. You can also use GFCI breakers and use all standard outlets (with labels).

This is a much better option than cheater plugs, ungrounded 3-prong outlets, and breaking off EGC prongs.
Last edited by kevinf on Fri May 01, 2020 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Afty
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Afty » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:20 pm

Another use for these outlets is EV charging. Tesla sells an adapter that lets you draw 16 amps continuous from a NEMA 5-20 outlet.

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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by seawolf21 » Fri May 01, 2020 12:20 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:31 pm
kevinf wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:54 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:22 am
...It is safest to only replace receptacles with whatever was installed in the lst place regardless of what the breaker amp. is.
IE: if the original outlet receptacle does not have a "ground" (3 prong) in an older building, then it has to be replaced with the existing 2 prong only with no ground. (tenants do this wrongly on thier own!)...
This is not quite accurate. My home has 2 wire along the shared wall, which meant the original outlets were 2-prong no ground. Code allows replacing them with GFCI outlets to enable 3-prong devices to plug in, but the outlet must be labeled as "GFCI no ground." The GFCI is still functional without a ground wire and will trip on a fault.

A GFCI outlet is definitely a safer option than a 2-prong outlet. I'd advise putting in some GFCI outlets for your tenants to modernize their living space and allow them to use 3-prong devices so you don't get any more self-made handymen installing ungrounded 3-prong outlets.
Thanks.
That's good to know.
(as if tenants read labels. . . . :shock: :shock: )
The older 2 prong no ground receptacles can only be had at the supply houses so I've bought them in bulk for one of my buildings.
Also didn't know that GFCI's work without a ground wire. Interesting.

Thanks again,
j :happy
If the box housing the receptacle is metal, there is a chance the box is already grounded to begin with. Would need a multimeter to confirm (make contact with hot wire and box to see if it reads 120v)

If so you can attach a pigtail ground wire between the receptacle ground and the box (good chance there is a screw hole in the back of the box designed for the ground wire pigtail).

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Sandtrap
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Sandtrap » Fri May 01, 2020 12:34 pm

seawolf21 wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 12:20 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:31 pm
kevinf wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:54 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:22 am
...It is safest to only replace receptacles with whatever was installed in the lst place regardless of what the breaker amp. is.
IE: if the original outlet receptacle does not have a "ground" (3 prong) in an older building, then it has to be replaced with the existing 2 prong only with no ground. (tenants do this wrongly on thier own!)...
This is not quite accurate. My home has 2 wire along the shared wall, which meant the original outlets were 2-prong no ground. Code allows replacing them with GFCI outlets to enable 3-prong devices to plug in, but the outlet must be labeled as "GFCI no ground." The GFCI is still functional without a ground wire and will trip on a fault.

A GFCI outlet is definitely a safer option than a 2-prong outlet. I'd advise putting in some GFCI outlets for your tenants to modernize their living space and allow them to use 3-prong devices so you don't get any more self-made handymen installing ungrounded 3-prong outlets.
Thanks.
That's good to know.
(as if tenants read labels. . . . :shock: :shock: )
The older 2 prong no ground receptacles can only be had at the supply houses so I've bought them in bulk for one of my buildings.
Also didn't know that GFCI's work without a ground wire. Interesting.

Thanks again,
j :happy
If the box housing the receptacle is metal, there is a chance the box is already grounded to begin with. Would need a multimeter to confirm (make contact with hot wire and box to see if it reads 120v)

If so you can attach a pigtail ground wire between the receptacle ground and the box (good chance there is a screw hole in the back of the box designed for the ground wire pigtail).
Good points.
My oldest building (ancient) has a mixture of surface mount plastic boxes on single panel walls and the old "bakelite" type boxes on the exterior CMU walls. The best I could do over the many years were panel upgrades, splitting the circuits up, run new upgraded branch circuits to utilities, elec water heater, washer/dryer, etc, and so forth. Beyond that, it is what it is. . . old.

Thanks for the great tips.
Aloha
j :happy
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Uniballer
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by Uniballer » Fri May 01, 2020 12:35 pm

seawolf21 wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 12:20 pm
If the box housing the receptacle is metal, there is a chance the box is already grounded to begin with. Would need a multimeter to confirm (make contact with hot wire and box to see if it reads 120v)

If so you can attach a pigtail ground wire between the receptacle ground and the box (good chance there is a screw hole in the back of the box designed for the ground wire pigtail).
This is not always the right answer. For example, my parents' house (built in 1934) was originally wired with BX cable. There is a nominal ground through the BX cable shield that would be detected by a meter, but it is not considered to be a good enough ground for clearing faults that should trip the breaker.

Here is an article on this topic for reference.

michaelingp
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by michaelingp » Fri May 01, 2020 3:00 pm

Uniballer wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 12:35 pm

This is not always the right answer. For example, my parents' house (built in 1934) was originally wired with BX cable. There is a nominal ground through the BX cable shield that would be detected by a meter, but it is not considered to be a good enough ground for clearing faults that should trip the breaker.

Here is an article on this topic for reference.
Good information! I'm always amazed at the quality of information that has nothing to do with finance on the BH forum. A little research revealed that BX cable with the additional aluminum grounding strip wasn't introduced until 1959. The best thing to do for a lot of houses is find a good "old work" electrician to fish new cable to the outlet boxes. A good electrician can do this with remarkably little damage to the walls and ceilings. Unfortunately my electrician and his son who were incredible at this have both retired.

tev9876
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Re: 20 AMP Plugs

Post by tev9876 » Fri May 01, 2020 4:46 pm

michaelingp wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 3:00 pm
Uniballer wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 12:35 pm

This is not always the right answer. For example, my parents' house (built in 1934) was originally wired with BX cable. There is a nominal ground through the BX cable shield that would be detected by a meter, but it is not considered to be a good enough ground for clearing faults that should trip the breaker.

Here is an article on this topic for reference.
Good information! I'm always amazed at the quality of information that has nothing to do with finance on the BH forum. A little research revealed that BX cable with the additional aluminum grounding strip wasn't introduced until 1959. The best thing to do for a lot of houses is find a good "old work" electrician to fish new cable to the outlet boxes. A good electrician can do this with remarkably little damage to the walls and ceilings. Unfortunately my electrician and his son who were incredible at this have both retired.
Adding a GFCI with three prong plugs would be a much cheaper, easier and safer option. The ground wire will only protect you on dead shorts because it won't trip the breaker until it hits 20 amps. A GFCI will trip around 5 milliamps. I've been the unlucky recipient of a shorted metal lamp (two prong plug) in one hand and touched the refrigerator with the other and took a 120 volt shock across my chest - felt like I was kicked by a mule. If I hadn't been able to immediately disconnect myself from the grounded appliance I could have been long dead before the breaker tripped. A GFCI would have tripped before I felt a thing. A ground wire is not going to protect you from dropping the toaster in the sink. A GFCI will.

The hardest thing about installing a GFCI may be finding the first outlet on the circuit. No telling what the original electrician did while the walls were open. It can also be impossible to fit one into an older outlet box since they tended to be smaller. I have had to replace a few wall boxes to install dimmers and GFCIs for the extra space needed and it can end up requiring some drywall repair. You could also just swap out the breaker for GFCI breaker and then change the outlets to three prong, but the breaker is more expensive - assuming you can find one that fits your electrical panel.

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