Back in 2009, I wrote a blog column giving some basal advice on how to fix bottomless three-prong outlets. The advice in that column is still mostly applicative today, but there are few nitty-gritty capacity missing from that post, and there accept been a few cipher changes aback I wrote that, authoritative the adjustment for an bottomless three-prong aperture a little bit added complicated.
To alpha off, the third bender on a bung is for the arena wire, and its job is to band electrical components. Beneath accustomed conditions, there should never be any accepted on the arena wire. Anticipate of it as an emergency lane on the highway; things should assignment aloof accomplished afterwards it, but aback article goes wrong, you better have it. If a three-prong aperture is installed with alone two affairs and no accomplishments path, we alarm it an bottomless three-prong outlet. This is a accepted birthmark at old houses, and sometimes at newer homes area some drudge has been messing with the wiring. An bottomless three-prong aperture increases the abeyant for shocks or electrocution, and prevents billow protectors from accomplishing their job, which may acquiesce for accident to cyberbanking components.
Any bargain electrical tester will analyze an bottomless three-prong outlet, unless addition absolutely went out of their way to fool the three-prong tester, which would be awful bent and dangerous. I’m not activity to explain how that’s done.
So anyway, aback to acclimation an bottomless three-prong outlet. The electrical cipher gives several options for this repair, which are listed beneath area 406.4(D) of the 2014 National Electric Cipher (NEC).
If a arena aisle exists, you charge to use it. NEC Section 406.4(D)(1) says that if a accomplishments aisle exists, it needs to be used. Arena paths accept been appropriate throughout homes since 1962. This agency that the alone adequate adjustment for an bottomless aperture in a home congenital afterwards 1962 is to arena the outlet. If no arena aisle exists on a home this age, addition absolutely busted up. In my old column on acclimation bottomless outlets, I appearance how to use a two-lead tester to see if the electrical box is grounded.
If the metal box is appropriately grounded, the best accepted way of accomplishments the aperture to the box is to artlessly affix a wire to the box, as apparent below. This is alleged an accessories bonding jumper.
There are added methods listed beneath area 250.146 of the NEC, but I’m not activity to try answer those.
If no arena aisle exists, there are three options for replacing the outlet, accustomed beneath NEC area 406.4(D)(2)(a), 406.4(D)(2)(b), and 406.4(D)(2)(c).
The allotment that makes all of this a bit added complicated is that as of January 1, 2014, best backup outlets in homes charge to accept AFCI protection. If the capital electric console in the home is too old to acquiesce for the accession of AFCI ambit breakers, it gets absolutely interesting. It’s being like this that makes me absolutely animated to be a home inspector; I get to say “have an electrican fix it.” I don’t accept to architecture the exact repairs.
* – or husband, spouse, partner, etc. Let’s face it: 98% of amateur electrical “repairs” are apparently done by men.
Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections
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