The grounding prong of a 3 prong plug broke off in an outlet.

Could this be an electrical hazard should a child touch it?

  • Could it be an electrical hazard? it depends. Would you like to plug it in and touch it to find out? didn't think so... I suggest you replace the plug! – hookenz Mar 31 '15 at 8:52
  • Get a needle-nose pliers with insulated handle and pull the thing out of there. You shouldn't need the insulated handle, but with 120 volts, paranoia is the better part of safety. – Wayfaring Stranger Mar 31 '15 at 11:48
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    @WayfaringStranger better yet, just turn of the power first. relying in insulated tools is never a good idea if you can avoid it. – Steven Mar 31 '15 at 18:13
  • Outlets are so cheap, I'd just replace the whole outlet if he has the skills to do so, since the prong may have broken off because of a flaw in the outlet. – Johnny Mar 31 '15 at 18:26
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    The most dangerous part is the end of the cord which no longer has a grounding pin. Presumably the device to be grounded. It can also be put in upside down as I've never seen a cord end that had a polarized connector and a grounding pin. – Brad Gilbert Apr 1 '15 at 14:17

It could be bad if other things go wrong as well, or if the circuit/device is miswired. It also prevents you from plugging in other grounded devices, which could be a problem as well. The best thing to do would be to either remove it, or replace the receptacle.

Turn off the power to the circuit at the breaker, and verify power is off. Then using needle nose pliers (or tweezers), try to extract the pin. If you're unable to remove it, have the receptacle replaced by a professional.


It's not immediately dangerous, but it is bad simply because it is wrong.

And it may be easy to fix, as others have noted. If so, you've probably already fixed it.

If not, (perhaps the prong is deeply inserted in the outlet), then consider:

  1. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker
  2. Verify the power is off using a lamp in the other outlet socket
  3. Remove the prong by what ever means needed pliers? tweezers?

In any case, you should definitely fix this, at the very least, it will be a problem at some point later when you want to use a three prong plug.

  • re: step 2: Be aware that Multi-Wire Branch Circuits exist (though they're no longer legal for new installs). This means that the top outlet could be controlled by one breaker and the bottom outlet could be controlled by another. Technically, the breakers should be together in the panel, have a handle-tie and a common trip, but, unfortunately, some DIYers don't do/know that, which is why they've outlawed them. Plug a non-ground-required device into the socket in question to be 100% certain the power is out to that socket, then test the other one, too. Otherwise agree 100%. – FreeMan Jun 17 at 14:48

Assuming the outlet is correctly grounded, this would be no different from touching the outlet mounting screws - harmless.

However, if the outlet were miswired, for example, the outlet ground actually connected to neutral (because there was no ground in the box) and there was a wiring fault disconnecting the circuit's neutral, the neutral prong, as well as the ground, could become hot.

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