I'm upgrading 2 outlets in a house built in 1950 (no ground wire); the junction box is in the attic, and currently the line runs from it down into a light switch outlet, and there's a downstream line running sideways and then down from the light switch over to a receptacle outlet.

Quick (ugly) mockup; the black lines show how it's currently connected; the green show what I'm considering doing:

enter image description here

The new line down to the light switch will be no problem(ish. You know how it goes, lol.), but rather than fight with running a new line sideways over to the receptacles again, as it is currently setup, I'm considering just disconnecting the current line and running a direct line from the receptacle outlet up to the attic and into the junction box.

My question: is this a better idea? (Receptacle will be used for electronics (PC, tv, etc.)). Are there any advantages to a direct line rather than just running a downstream line?

Disclaimer: I'm not an electrician, just a DIY'er, so I may have some of the verbiage wrong (i.e. "receptacles", "outlet", etc.)

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    It isn't clear why you are running a new line, or what the difference is between the old line and the new line. Please clarify. Oct 13, 2021 at 14:06
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    This is an X-Y problem. The real task is not (or should not...) be "I need to replace all the existing cables and want to find out the best way to run them" but rather "I want to add ground to existing ungrounded receptacles and want to find out the best way to do that". Because with that second question, you will discover you actually have some additional options that could save you a lot of time & money. Also, are you sure you don't have ground wires available somewhere? I have a similar vintage house, and so far every 2-wire receptacle that I have replaced has had ground available, but... Oct 13, 2021 at 14:10
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    Retrofitting ground by only running a new ground wire to existing receptacles is a perfectly code-legal solution. You don't need to run all new cabling.
    – brhans
    Oct 13, 2021 at 17:48
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    If that's news to you, it's because NEC 2014 liberalized the rules for retrofit grounds. It also required use of torque screwdrivers, which just goes to show how recent code changes are rarely publicized. Oct 13, 2021 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


There's really no reason to do this, especially if you're abandoning the old cable in place

Since your power source is a junction box and not an electrical panel, there's no reason to do this; you might want to run a bypass/direct line to relieve crowding in a switch box, but in that case, you'd need to pull the old wire to the receptacle out instead of just abandoning it in place.

  • ty, that's what I was figuring. I think I'm just going to keep it the way it is; my problem now is the old line that goes horizontal through at least 1 stud absolutely will not budge no matter how hard I pull on it, from either end. I might have to buy a damn $40 flexbit and drill another hole(s) and leave the old line in the wall. ugh. Oct 19, 2021 at 14:56

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