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I went to open up my outlet to see if it has a metal box. The previous owner wired in 3 prong outlets. I look and there is no ground which i suspected. But they also have 2 neutral electrical tape "spliced" into one neutral and same for hot. When i pulled out the outlet thr neutral snapped off, so i put electrical tape on the broken ends and put in child protectors until its fixed. Is it ok that hot is still connected as long as its not used? Not sure what to do with this now. Originally i just wanted to add ground to the metal box and maybe switch to gfi to help protect electronics. But what a mess.

Update: its 3 and 3 not 2 and 2 spliced into single wires. Wires are old copper with fabric. What can i use to properly connect all these? I should also note these old outlets hook into circuit breaker not fuse box but i have yet to see a grounded outlet.

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    Photo or sketch would help; I'm not sure I'm following your description. – keshlam Feb 7 '15 at 19:20
  • I can sketch later today, but for now, is it ok for outlet to have hot and no neutral if not used? Its not gunna start a fire or nothin right? Im leaving soon and want peace of mind – bpearr Feb 7 '15 at 19:30
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    Agree that photos would help, but am I understanding correctly that you've got live connections still put together with electrical tape? If so, cut the power to the circuit and use proper wire nut connectors. Then you can deal with a gfci later. – Aloysius Defenestrate Feb 7 '15 at 19:32
  • It was already done like that, and i taped over the broken ends of neutral. So only hot is connected. Does that cause problems if outlet is unused? Ill have more questions about properly fixing once i return. Thanks guys! – bpearr Feb 7 '15 at 19:45
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    Just pop on over to the hardware store, and pick up a couple twist-on wire connectors. Replace the tape with the twist-on connectors, and you should be good. Then inspect every other receptacle for the same shenanigans. On another note. Connecting the receptacle ground to the box is useless, unless the box is grounded. – Tester101 Feb 8 '15 at 2:40
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Good news: it's fine as-is.

Bad news: Taped connections are fine IF they are either crimped or soldered. 3 wires just twisted together and taped are not ok.

More bad news: A metal box means nothing. A grounded outlet requires a ground wire. If you have a ground wire running to the box you don't need a metal box (plastic is fine). If you don't have a ground wire then you don't get grounded outlets until you run one there.

Even more bad news: This probably isn't the only surprise the previous owner left you.

  • There is no ground throughout the house except maybe in the newer added electrical outlets for dryer and stove (hopefully).. So I was going to use ground wire to ground to the metal box. Or is that not good enough of a ground? I am going to get the alumiconn connectors to solve the aluminum issue. Also, still unsure if I should split up the hots and neutrals and splice them separately and connect to all available terminals on the receptacle? – bpearr Feb 8 '15 at 3:05
  • and since im going to be using alumiconn connectors, I can just use standard gauge outlet wire regaurdless of if aluminum wire is larger or smaller? or no? – bpearr Feb 8 '15 at 3:13
  • @bpearr The metal box is only grounded if your wiring is modern AC with a ground strip or some form of conduit (RMC, IMC, EMT, FMC, LFMC). It's likely not hooked up to anything at all in your house, since I don't know of aluminum-wire AC or anyone who'd be insane enough to pull 12awg aluminum THHN through conduit! – ThreePhaseEel Feb 8 '15 at 8:42
  • I was wrong its not aluminum, its copper with fabric coating. And it is 3 neutrals spliced into one and 3 hots spliced into one. Im assuming all hots and neutrals because it was functioning fine. Is it ok to pigtail all these? What should I use? – bpearr Feb 8 '15 at 18:04
  • @bpearr -- if it is indeed copper, use a garden-variety wirenut. – ThreePhaseEel Feb 8 '15 at 20:40

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