My son recently moved into a house built in 1957 that has an updated panel with ground connected to the bus bar. However, the receptacles I've checked are old two-pronged receptacles in metal boxes fed by 14/2 Romex cable. Unfortunately, I haven't found any outlets yet that are serviced by armored cable.

I believe that NEC code requires these outlets be GFCI protected to comply with current code. Is this correct?

I've checked other questions and can't find a specific answer to this question.

  • 1
    is there (continuous) metal conduit from the panel to each receptacle? If so then you can upgrade the outlets to the 3 prong with no issue with a ground tail to the back of the box. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 15:58
  • @ratchetfreak "14/2 romex" tends to imply (but doesn't guarantee) no conduit.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 16:02
  • I think if you made/run a new circuit it has to be up to code. Just replacing outlets/switches it can stay with the code when built. Would need to see if ground wire or metal conduit was included in the circuit, if not then GFCI outlet/s will help some. Some of the old two prong outlets did have the box grounded.
    – crip659
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 16:03
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    Can you post photos of the insides of a few representative boxes please? Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 16:20
  • 1
    It depends on the jurisdiction if GFCI is required for example 3 prong receptacles in my jurisdiction are not required to be updated to GFCI unless within 6’ from a sink or basin Romex was made in 14-2 no ground for almost 20 years.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 18:48

3 Answers 3


There is nothing that I'm aware of that requires changing the old two prong outlets to a GFCI protection scheme. You can replace the old outlets with three prong outlets because you have the Romex ground. You can also replace the old outlets with GFCI outlets even if there isn't a ground available and still be protected against a fault but you wouldn't have equipment grounding. Requirements to change out old outlets usually follows renovation of the rooms.

  • Thanks @JACK. I think we'll add GFCI outlets to each circuit that doesn't have a ground which is probably all of them.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 21:46
  • Once I've installed GFCIs, if a two-prong outlet needs to be replaced can I replace it with a three-prong even though there is no ground?
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 22:32
  • @HoneyDo as long as it is fed from a GFCI device, and, it is labeled per instructions and NEC 406.4. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 23:50

There are a number of panels out there which are dangerous - Zinsco and FPE have fundamentally defective-by-design panels that cannot be fixed. (Challenger breakers are faulty, but the bus and enclosure are fine). So, it's important to get these panels replaced, and it's important to make that easy and cheap.

A plain replacement of the panel does not break the grandfathering on the circuits fed by the panel. That matters to keep cost sane. Otherwise panel replacement would be prohibitive and people wouldn't do it.

  • Thanks for this info on Zinsco/FPE/Challenger. Next time at his house I'll check it out.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 21:36

I'm still waiting for my electrician to replace my panel. But while waiting, I've been replacing 2 prong receptacles with grounded receptacles. I started with both regular and GFCI in hand so that I could install GFCI if there was no ground, but so far have found all the old boxes had ground available either as part of NM cable or armored cable. (Also fixed hot neutral reverse and other problems as I've found them.) GFCI is a great fix if you really don't have ground, but otherwise normally only required for new receptacles.

That being said, if you are replacing any receptacles in prime GFCI territory such as kitchen, bathroom or outdoors, upgrading to a GFCI is a really good idea. My electrician did that in my bathrooms years ago when I had him in to do other work - I don't think he even asked, just said "you need this, I'm doing it" and I trusted his judgment. Since then I found out about some GFCI trips from my family (they were real - bad nightlight) and am glad he installed them.

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