False Grounding of Electrical Outlets

False ground

Most older homes do not have a ground wire run in the branch circuits. It is very common to find (3) prong electrical outlets in these homes that are not grounded. If not grounded, the receptacle should be replaced with a (2) prong outlet or have GFCI (ground fault) protection as allowed per the National Electrical Code.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) 406.3(D)(3) allows ungrounded (2) prong outlets without a third (grounding) wire, but only IF you install a GFCI receptacle to replace the 2-prong receptacle, or install a GFCI circuit breaker for that circuit, and mark the outlets “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground” Surge suppressors used for computers and other electronic equipment require a properly installed grounding wire to work correctly

When inspecting older homes, sometimes I find that the owner has updated some of the wiring. I will remove a couple randomly located electrical outlets to verify the grounding system. At a recent home inspection in Bellevue, Wa., I found that the electrical outlets had been modified to fool the plug testing equipment, however the outlets were not grounded. “Not only does a “false ground” electrical receptacle lack an actual safe alternative path to earth through a separate ground path or grounding conductor, but worse, the “ground” connection, by being wired to the neutral side of the circuit, can cause dangerous electrical shock as well as damage to equipment plugged into such an electrical outlet (source: InspectAPedia )”