I'm addressing an item on our house's inspection report where a GFCI outlet had been ungrounded. I turned off power at the breaker box, popped the outlet cover off and found the ground wire neatly tucked into the corner. When I pulled it out, I saw paint covering the ground as shown below:

The copper wire is painted over a bit.

From what I've researched so far, I should not attach the ground as-is, since the paint interferes with the metal-to-metal contact. Would using a chemical stripper be the best way to remove the paint? If not, what should I use?


Just some sand paper will be fine. You don't want to use a chemical stripper as it may interact poorly with the copper.

  • 1
    The sandpaper is doing a fantastic job at removing the paint! Thank you for also posting a reason why to not use chemical stripper; I hadn't thought of that! Dec 28 '16 at 16:15
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    That said, most paint strippers will be organic solvents (methylene chloride, maybe xylene, toluene) that generally don't do much to metal, copper especially. Aqueous solutions are more of a hazard. Sandpaper is the quickest and easiest way though, or a knife if it was throughly coated.
    – Nick T
    Dec 28 '16 at 18:48
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    In addition, sandpaper will remove any oxidisation making for a better electrical contact.
    – Criggie
    Dec 28 '16 at 19:48

If it's Latex paint, it may be able to “stripped” like normal insulation. Even if it sticks to the metal more than normal insulation, it can be sliced off with a knife using the same motion as peeling carrots.


I would definitely recommend some type of light abrasive, sandpaper,as mentioned is fine. (No pun), as would be steel wool.

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