I have been upgrading to grounded outlets in my 1950s house and I just want to make sure that this particular outlet was wired appropriately by the previous homeowner. This outlet is controlled by a switch. In the switch box, two black wires are secured to one brass post, while one red wire is secured to another brass post. In the outlet box, there is one capped black wire. One red wire runs to the brass connections and two white wires to the silver connections. I wired the new outlet the same way but added a ground that connects to the metal box (Later, I rewired the new outlet to the screws, not the push in connectors).

My ground tester confirms it's grounded. Is there anything I need to change here or should be concerned about?

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  • Can you post a photo looking into the back of the receptacle box please? Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 2:35
  • Sure, please see photo. It actually looks like there are two black wires in the outlet receptacle tied together (sorry if I don't know the terminology). I don't quite understand what they're doing there. I'm not sure if this is helpful but when the breaker to that outlet and others on the same series is off, neither black wires has power. Both wires retain power when the switch to the receptacle is in the off position.
    – Rob Irwin
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 2:46
  • Based on your new picture, it looks like the right cable is the one coming from the switch, where black is constant-hot, red is switched-hot, and white is neutral. The left cable takes constant-hot and neutral and continues onward to power something else. In this case, they used the outlet as a splice block for the neutral, but since constant hot wasn't going to the outlet, they used a wire nut to splice that. So far, all good. I can't quite tell where the green wire goes -- does it make it to your panel somehow?
    – Nate S.
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 17:22
  • Incidentally, if you'd like to make the outlet such that only half of it is switched, and the other half is constant on, you already have all the wires in place to do so.
    – Nate S.
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 17:23
  • Ah, looking closer, I see a bit of bare copper near the clamp for the right cable -- that's probably how ground enters this box. Is it just clamped by the cable clamp, or does it go somewhere we can't see? The cable clamp is probably enough to satisfy your tester, but really that wire should land under a screw somewhere.
    – Nate S.
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 17:27

2 Answers 2


As long as you ran a ground wire from the receptacle to the box, you should be fine providing the box is grounded. It's not uncommon for older systems with metal boxes to have the box grounds connected. Make sure they aren't just bridging neutral to ground anywhere to fool the tester.

You do need to run ground wires to the box on receptacles. A receptacle can also ground through direct contact between metal yoke and box, as you have with that switch; but not if the box is dirty or rusty (as your switch is) or if it has the little paper squares to capture the screws (as your switch does).

The rules are easier on grounding switches; your switches can ground through their screws despite the material preventing the yoke from hard contact.


First off, good for you for using the screw terminals and not using the backstabs. The capped black wire could be hooked up to the other brass screw on the outlet and the jumper clip removed. Then you'd have one outlet always hot and one switched, but it's fine the way you have it. Something to think about ... in the future when you have two or more wires going to an outlet, use a pigtail, never backstabs. In your case, connect the two white wires together with an additional 8" piece of white wire with the appropriate wire nut and tuck them into the box. Then connect the short piece to the outlet.

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