I am looking to add new receptacles (15A) behind my TV by running a 12/2 romex (20A circuit/breaker) from a nearby existing receptacles (15A). The problem is, the existing receptacle has no ground wire. House is old (1960s), I see the that the receptacle is grounded to the metal box (tested this by running a voltage meter touching the hot prong and the metal box).

After doing some research, I came across the possible solution of just getting 15A GCFI receptacles (over buying 2 prong receptacles) for the new outlet and only connecting the hot and neutral wires. This seems to be the "relatively safest" method without rewiring from the breaker.

Is this the best and easy option? Or are better ones out there (again, without having to rewire from the breaker)?

All suggestions are welcomed! thank you for your guys/gals time! enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • 2
    Can you post a photo looking into the back of the existing receptacle's box please? Jun 15, 2019 at 22:27
  • The reason to answer ThreePhaseEel's query is we might find a way to get ground after all. Jun 15, 2019 at 22:35
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    @ThreePhaseEel Thank you for the responses. I have added links to the photos. Sorry not sure how to upload the photos directly, the max 2MB is very restricting.
    – James L
    Jun 15, 2019 at 23:00

3 Answers 3


There are ground wires there, they're just buried in the back

In your photos, I can see some bare copper wires in the back of the box. These are the ground wires you are looking for, and you'll need to get them pulled out as far as they can go, then nut them to a box grounding pigtail screwed to the box and to another pigtail that goes off to the receptacle.

  • Ty. Are you saying there should be a tail end to the copper wire if I pull on it? It looks like it comes into the box and then out.
    – James L
    Jun 16, 2019 at 1:48
  • @JamesL -- it should have a tail end, yes, it may be tucked into a splice of some sort somewhere Jun 16, 2019 at 2:17
  • If the metal box is grounded by wire held to the box by a grounding clip, then the receptacle will be grounded when it is fastened to the box, if the receptacle is installed correctly, right? Attaching grounding wire to the grounding screw on the receptacle is not necessary, right? Jun 16, 2019 at 11:59
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    @jimstewart note that the drywall is proud of the junction box, and the receptacle will and should float above the box by the drywall ears. As such the current path is threads and head contact. You have the right idea, but this is only allowed for switches, not receptacles. Jun 16, 2019 at 12:47
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    @JimStewart it's also necessary when fitting in 4x4 domed box covers, or really almost any industrial surface mounting with steel boxes and covers. My only issue is that breaking off drywall ears when you are in fact installing on drywall risks the receptacle submarining too deep into the wall, creating a fitment problem with the cover. Jun 16, 2019 at 12:58

The box is grounded ,but not correctly. See the push on ground clip on box.The rest are in the box. Need to splice them together. If the rest of the house is the same, should be fixed. The gap around box should be 1/8 for code 312.4 ..They also make a insulation you can add over outlet,for drafts and heat loss.

  • Is a ground wire held to the outside of the metal box by the clip at the top? Jun 16, 2019 at 11:55
  • @RobertMoody how loud are they?
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 16, 2019 at 12:50
  • Yes that is the grounding clip.
    – user101687
    Jun 16, 2019 at 12:57
  • Can you provide a code reference for a required 1/8” gap around the box,
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 28, 2019 at 10:26
  • Code 312.4 1/8 gap around box.312.3 Boxes in wood frame to be flush to drywall.
    – user101687
    Jun 29, 2019 at 22:37

The correct installation of a receptacle in a grounded metal box is to break off all four ears leaving only the end tabs. If shimming is necessary to space the receptacle out, then the broken off ears are placed around the screws between the tabs and the box. This establishes an adequate and approved conducting path. Just the screws and threads would test OK but are not considered adequate for high currents.

EDIT Note that any paper screw keeper must be removed on at least on one end. This allows one end tab to make face-to-face contact with the metal box.

Good quality receptacles have a paper screw keeper on only one end and it does not have to be removed. The tab on the other end has a metal wire keeper which allows the tab to make face-to-face contact with a metal box as the screw is tightened. If the box is too far back, then use the broken off ears as conducting shim washers.

EDIT2 Looks like the box is set back as much as the thickness of the drywall. If so the two ears will not shim it out far enough. You will have to get some more washers for shims. Alternatively you could use all fours ears on one end and plastic shims on the other end.

Alternatively, since you have a lot of space around the box you could leave the ears on and use a stack of metal washers. You could also use pieces of metal bar stock or square tube stock and drill a hole for the screw.

  • That is a clever way of solving the hard metal -metal yoke contact a receptacle needs. However you cannot allow the receptacle to be low from the wall. If you do, the cover plate won't fit properly. Jun 16, 2019 at 12:51
  • If this was emt could see doing that.I still would use a self grounding outlet. And the paper that holds the screw has to be removed. As far as the ears never heard of removing the ears to add grounding. yes remove make outlet flush.
    – user101687
    Jun 16, 2019 at 12:53
  • Good quality receptacles have the paper screw keeper on only one end and it does not have to be removed. The tab on the other end has a metal wire keeper which allows the tab to make face-to-face contact with a metal box as the screw is tightened. Jun 16, 2019 at 13:32
  • @Harper, this use of the ears is not an improvisation, but IIUC it is all part of the design by the mfgr. The ears have holes in them for the express purpose of their being usable as shims. Boxes are supposed to be placed with the edge not more than 1/8" in from the finished wall and a pair of ears will shim it out to proper position. That should not be hard to do, but I see so many boxes inset farther than that! Jun 16, 2019 at 16:59

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