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My house was built in 1959. All receptacles are three-pronged and all tested with the correct connection. I have one remaining working two-pronged receptacle in the kitchen which I would like to replace with a GFCI receptacle. The hot wire was stripped in the middle and wrapped around the screw. I assume that the power is sent down to other receptacle as downstream.

The other side has two neutral white wires and connect to each of the silver screws.

Can I cut the black wire in two, test to see which one is actually hot and connect it to GFCI LINE brass screw, and connect the other black wire into the LOAD screw?

  • 1
    If you look carefully, you can see how much damage was done to that black wire when the insulation was removed. This is why we don't do this - that black wire would probably snap with a few more trips in and out of that device box. Whatever you do, it's worth refitting that black wire, cutting off the damaged sections where the previous installer cut into the copper with a knife.
    – J...
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 14:31
  • I have used this stripping method to use one pigtail to supply the line hot to three switches in a triple gang box, but I'd like to know how it would be used on receptacles. What devices are in the box with this receptacle? Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 15:59
  • @J... I ran into this style of wiring when I was inspecting my own outlets. I undid it (for the same reason you mentioned, I was skeptical that the middle-of-the-wire stripping was done in a way that didn't knick the copper). Is the name for this kind of connection? Is it even legal?
    – Alexander
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 3:34

2 Answers 2


First, hit TEST on all the other GFCIs in the kitchen. If this socket loses power when you do that, your work is already done. Add the "GFCI Protected" sticker* and it's Miller time.

If it does not, then you can decide whether you want to protect just this receptacle, or whatever on earth is in the rest of the circuit. It's your decision.

If you don't want to protect whatever the rest of the circuit is, then leave the "For Wizards Only" warning tape on the new GFCI receptacle. Move that U-shaped wire to the "LINE" Hot screw. For the 2 neutral wires, straighten them out, cut them to the length described on the GFCI receptacle's "cut guide", and then back-wire them underneath the "LINE" neutral screw using the method described in the instructions. Hook up ground, test and done.

If you do want to protect downline wires, then you'll have to cut the black bare wire in the middle of its bare section, and follow manassehkatz's advice.

* Yes, stickering any plain outlets protected by a GFCI is a Code requirement. Which means, knowing what those outlets are is a Code requirement. Needless to say, most installers overlook this. It brings them no end of trouble, least, installing redundant GFCIs.


Can I cut the black wire in 2, test to see which one is actually hot and connect it to GFCI LINE brass screw, and connect the other black wire into LOAD screw?

Yes, that is what you should do. The other thing is you need to make sure the neutrals match to the hot wires correctly for LINE vs. LOAD.

First connect the LINE side and install and test the GFCI. Once everything is good (powers on OK and able to run an actual appliance, TEST trips it, RESET resets it) then connect LOAD and test the downstream receptacles.

If you have a GFCI tester, you can use that in the downstream receptacles, but if ground is not good then a GFCI tester won't actually work - but you are still protected due to the way GFCI works, provided hot/neutral LINE/LOAD are connected correctly.

But first...

I assume that the power is sent down to other receptacle as downstream

You know what happens when you assume...so figure out first what else is powered by these wires. It may be other receptacles in or near the kitchen or bathroom or outdoors or other areas where GFCI protection is beneficial. But while kitchen receptacles are supposed to be on dedicated kitchen circuits, in 1959 houses (if they're like my 1956 house) they often are shared with "other stuff everywhere". If that other stuff is not other GFCI-good-idea receptacles, like:

  • Lighting
  • Refrigerator receptacle
  • Receptacles in bedrooms

then Harper's idea of moving the loop to the hot screw on the GFCI hot LINE and both neutrals to the GFCI neutral LINE makes sense.

  • 1
    I think you switched LINE/LOAD in your second paragraph "first connect LOAD... then connect LINE". Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 18:36
  • 1
    Oops! Thank you. Fixed. Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 18:45

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