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The grounding pin of my extension cord broke off in the outlet when I unplugged it.

Is it safe to use pliers to pull the pin out of the outlet?

Will I get shocked?

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    If everything is wired correctly to modern Code, yes, even a single failure (e.g. broken wire NOT wired wrong) should protect you. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 23:53
  • Voting to close as opinion-based. This is a matter of personal risk tolerance and will prove to be little more than a popularity vote. If you wanted to make it more objective, revise to ask whether the ground terminal in an outlet normally carries current. – isherwood Dec 30 '20 at 14:01
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    @isherwood That being said, it's effectively a duplicate of diy.stackexchange.com/questions/62936/… IMHO. – TylerH Dec 30 '20 at 14:53
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    Funny how many have metal lamps? Every one is required to have the ground attached to the body of the lamp. – Ed Beal Dec 30 '20 at 15:42
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    Does this answer your question? Is it dangerous if the ground pin of a 3 prong plug breaks off in the outlet? – Peter Duniho Dec 30 '20 at 17:32
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You'll want to turn off the breaker. You should be alright but if the internals of the outlet are damaged or broken, you don't want to come in contact with them when you pull out the ground plug. You might even want to replace the outlet since the grounding terminal shouldn't just break off under normal use, unless the extension cord was really damaged.

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    Enjoying both JACK and Ed,'s comments, I agree with both of you. But when it come to newbies, I always recommend more safety measures: like turn off the breaker for the circuit and test to be sure it's off, then with insulated pliers do what needs to be done. I'd personally have no issue pulling out a broken ground prong with the power on, but that's not what I tell my friends who ask for advice! Take Care and Happy New Year. Looking forward to 2020 to be GONE!. – George Anderson Dec 29 '20 at 22:45
  • Jack I probably repair at least 20 cords a year at my mill it is almost always molded plugs that loose the pin. For the receptacle to be damaged to the point of getting a shock from a ground is really not feasible the testing includes weighted drop tests if the receptacle can’t hold up to the standards it would not pass UL certification there would be heavy visible damage even then I doubt there would be an issue because if it was the connection would trip the breaker. – Ed Beal Dec 30 '20 at 4:57
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    Agreed the outlet should not be suspect unless there's any other evidence to believe there's something wrong with it. Cheap extension cords with molded plugs lose ground pins all the time - especially with hard use. Like @EdBeal, I threw out two just last week and see a similar failure rate. – J... Dec 30 '20 at 13:12
  • @EdBeal I agree with you Ed and that's why I stated the OP should be alright doing it but just to be safe, turn off the breaker especially since it's a DIY'er asking the question. I'd wager your knowledge far exceeds all DIY'ers and probably most of the people on this site so any advise I'd give to you would be a lot different than what I'd give to a DIY'er. – JACK Dec 30 '20 at 13:13
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    @user253751 Of course. But enough other crappy stuff happened in 2020 that it will be good to "turn the page". – George Anderson Dec 30 '20 at 16:50
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The ground pin is safe to remove with pliers. The ground will normally only have power on it in a fault condition or if you have electronic switches no neutral that use the ground but even then it is safe with un insulated pliers most metal lamps and devices the metal is attached to the ground and we don’t get shocked by that.

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    Any electronic switch which uses ground with UL's blessing should be safe too, as it should inherently limit current to under 5ma in any foreseeable failure mode. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 23:54
  • @harper there is also a limit to 5 or 6 of these devices so the actual limit may be less than 5 ma but I have not looked into that limit and don’t remember if it is per branch circuit or total. – Ed Beal Dec 30 '20 at 4:45
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    Really hoping that future Google visitors to this page aren't mistaken about which one's the ground pin – Sneftel Dec 30 '20 at 12:11
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    Should be, yes. You never know how stupidly your house is wired though. Look up "reverse polarity bootleg ground" which is where someone wired the live wire to the ground pin... – user253751 Dec 30 '20 at 15:18
  • As a professional I disagree if the pin was live that would be a direct short to ground and it would be no different than a metal lamp connected to the circuit where the frame is connected to ground so it “should be safe”. – Ed Beal Dec 30 '20 at 15:56
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Turn off the breaker for that outlet, it's the only way to be sure you're safe. If you don't know which breaker controls that outlet then plug in a lamp, turn it on, and go hunting for the breaker. As far as I know lamps commonly use only 2 prongs so the ground pin should not be an issue.

If you can then remove the prong with pliers and turn the breaker back on.

After doing so test the receptacle with a receptacle tester like this:

Klein Tools receptacle tester: model RT210

It will tell you if the broken prong has caused any immediately obvious issues.

If you fear hidden damage that might not make itself known until a future date then it's fairly simple and cheap to replace the outlet. Once again, turn off the breaker before attempting this.

Pro-tip: take picture of both sides of the outlet before replacing it. I have seen far too many posts on this site where someone disconnects a rat nest of wires in an outlet or switch and then asks the community which wire goes where.

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