I have a 1954 two-story Pacemaker trailer. It's been rewired by somebody but the receptacles are in plastic boxes. Some have ground wires, some do not.

PG&E is going to give me a refrigerator, but my receptacle is not grounded so they can't give it to me until I ground it. However the outlet box is plastic not metal. There is no green wire anywhere. It's a 3 prong outlet, but has no ground.

How do I get around this so I can get a new refrigerator? Thanks so much.

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  • Please clarify: This outlet is in a 1954 trailer? Not a mobile home; not some other fixed location.
    – wallyk
    May 14, 2017 at 15:47
  • 2
    Strip back a bit of the romex sheathing. You may find a ground wire in there.
    – bigbull15
    May 14, 2017 at 15:55
  • Will they not accept the use of a GFCI in lieu of grounding the receptacle? May 14, 2017 at 17:37
  • 1
    @ThreePhaseEel I wouldn't. ............... Knowing some PG&E folks, if they don't want a refrigerator anymore, I'm not sure I'd want it either! LOL J/K, I know the point is to supply a new more efficient fridge, that being cheaper for them than building a new power plant in CA. A surprising number of "government" efficiency standards are exactly that. May 14, 2017 at 19:59

3 Answers 3


Years ago I bought an older trailer like this.

All the outlets were 2-wire. Fortunately, all the runs back to the fuse box were fairly short. Back in the days when it was built it was assumed that all the neutrals would be connected to a ground bus in the box.

So we made sure they were bonded and attached to a utility company-provided ground rod.

We had to replace all the receptacles with 3-prong outlets. I stopped short of tying the ground to the neutral at the outlet, which meant that the ground leads ended up floating.

I understand PG&E's position, since they deal with the code as it exists today.

So you have the option of adding a ground lead for the particular outlet they will inspect and call it a day. Or, perhaps you want to provide grounds all around the unit.

I live in PG&E territory and find they are very safety-oriented. If their focus is just on that one fridge then adding a ground wire might be worth the effort.

Ground wires do not need to be insulated or run in conduit, but definitely run it all the way to an approved ground bus or rod.

Never rely on the structure itself to be grounded properly. It is sitting on rubber wheels, remember, and even if it is grounded at the box it would provide a much higher resistance path to ground than a run of copper wire can. Just think of how many structural panels are screwed together between the box and your outlet. Each one rusts over time. You get the picture.

Of all appliances I have owned, the one most prone to having a hot case seems to be refrigerators. So whether you get it from them or buy one on your own, you really should have a grounded outlet for it.

Good luck!


Retrofitting grounds is legal now.

NEC 2014 (which PG&E would surely endorse) gives broad permission to retrofit just a ground wire as a separate wire.

What's more, different circuits can share grounds as long as they originate back to the same panel.

The RV being long and narrow, I would run a "ground bus" along the bottom of the RV (protected from damage) and hop from either existing junction boxes or new listed junction boxes for that purpose. Then run ground spurs off that to each box you want to protect. There is no need for the ground wire to follow the same route as the conductors.

I don't like GFCIs on fridges and will seek to avoid them, but for other circuits you may want to consider GFCI protection. It adds a lot of safety to ungrounded circuits, and in some ways is better than grounding. An ounce of safety...

  • yes GFCI's on fridges as well as AFCI's on fridges is something to avoid - of course if people like to go grocery shopping - it might be something to do - replace the groceries when it trips while away for 3 days.
    – Ken
    May 15, 2017 at 6:19

Gfci or ground fault circuit indicator type reciprocal outlets are modernized to allow you to ground to a simple metal box that can be grounded to the frame with an appropriately guaged ground wire. If it pops, your ground is faulty. Hence protection while making fixes kf needed until you ground it.

Since you dont have a ground wire yet. A metal box can quickly ground if its being mounted to a camper or trailer frame structure if its within the wall where the new box mounts to. If its wood! Fish a wire to your box.

This beats running conduit together to ground and/or running all new quality guage and flexible electical spec wires.

Test for ground with a multimeter, or Gfci by putting a load like a microwave on it..

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