We recently redid a bathroom and have an outlet on the wall it is not a switched outlet we wanted to put a GFI there and when we pulled the Outlet noticed no White Neutral wire just 2 reds and two blacks in disconnecting the outlet it and turning power off the majority of my home stays not powered this is and older home and no electrical work in my knowledge has been done since the home was built is it possible to hook a GFI to this type of wiring? The bigger problem is also showing its horns i dont think the whole home should run through this one outlet.

Side note the home has a main panel and a sub panel with the sub panel running the majority of things

  • Little hard to follow. So the red wires were connected to one side of the outlet, and the black wires to the other? Four wires total? And when you disconnect all four wires from the one outlet, power in most of the rest of the house also goes out? And I lost you at "asl showing its horns". Is this in the US or another location?
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 19:54
  • yes black wires one side red on another when i disconnect the rest of the home with the exception of the other bathroom and kitchen stay off. i am in the US sorry about that bad grammar i was having a conversation and trying to type at the same time. my bad! Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 19:59
  • How big and old is the home? It might not be "correct" by todays standards, but older or smaller homes aren't divided up into as many circuits as we do today. Also, is there no ground at all? And that outlet is a normal 120v, not a 240v?
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 20:01
  • 3 bedroom 2 bath it was built in the early 50's i think it is about 1000 sqft. No ground either, in other outlets i do see a neutral but still no ground and the outlet is 120V Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 20:06
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    Are there any white wires in play at all? Are these wires in conduit (will they slide a little bit in and out of the entry hole)? Or are they coming in in cables? Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


You can map out all the circuits and count up the number of outlets and lights on this one to see how many there actually is, but it might not be a big deal. Older homes tend to have fewer outlets because they didn't have as complex codes back then. My parents have a similar house, and I think all the lights and outlets are on only 2 or 3 different fuses (not even a breaker box...)

If the house was built in the 50's and all the wiring is original, I'm surprised you can tell what color the wires are. I don't know all of the "standards" back then, but it would seem they used red for neutral in at least some places in your house. You should open up the breaker box to get a better idea of whats going on (with the power off) and also test the wires in that outlet box to make sure that black isn't neutral. Over the years some DIY'er could have messed things up even more.

GFI can be installed without a ground, but again, make sure you know which is hot and which is neutral. Also, I wouldn't wire up "the rest of the house" to the load terminals of that GFI outlet, so you may have to wire nut your reds and blacks and pigtail off of that to go to the outlet in the bathroom. That extra wire and the extra size of the GFI outlet might also mean that you need a deeper outlet box - don't try to cram everything in there, especially with old wires that will have brittle insulation.

  • Thank you so much for the Knowledge! I think over the next week or so i'm going to trace and label everything. to see where everything goes! Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 21:09
  • @JeffSantellano, it's customary to wait a little before giving a check mark to give others a chance to answer. You could get a more detailed answer tonight or tomorrow, but having an already accepted answer reduces your chances. If there's no more attention in a day or so, then accept an answer. Welcome to the site!
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 21:15

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