I just moved into a townhome and found one of the outlets had a 2 prong receptacle. I used to be an electrical apprentice and figured the swap would be easy, no sir! I get to the wiring and theres 2 hots and 3 reds (I dont want to call them neutral) and no ground w/ romex coming up thru the back bottom. Its an older home from the 50-60s. Im wondering how to wire up the new 15v 125a receptacle, if possible. Or would it be easier to get adapters, or call an electrician?

  • 5
    Pictures (clear ones showing the wiring) would help immensely.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 17, 2016 at 14:56
  • How was the original device wired?
    – Tester101
    Aug 17, 2016 at 17:12
  • Is this in North America?
    – wallyk
    Aug 17, 2016 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


If you indeed have no ground in the box, the correct and code compliant action is to install a GFCI outlet, marked "no ground attached" (there should be stick-on labels in the box with the GFCI).

You could also replace it with a new 2-prong outlet. Under no condition should you use a normal 3-prong without connecting the ground or connecting the ground to neutral ("bootleg ground").

  • 1
    Question: in old systems with metal conduit, that conduit itself could provide a ground path and was sometimes used for that purpose (which is one of the reasons the outlet mounting tabs are connected to the outlet's ground, to make that connection.) I've never been sure whether using that path meets current code or not, so I've been playing it safe and installing GFCI with "no ground" stickers... but I've heard conflicting opinions and would appreciate a sanity check. This might be better asked as another question, admittedly.
    – keshlam
    Aug 17, 2016 at 19:08
  • 2
    I'll let one of the licensed sparkies answer definitively but I believe that metal conduit, properly installed, will provide a proper ground. However, armored cable may or may not provide a proper ground, depending on the exact type. The wrong type may produce a ground that will pass an outlet tester but will not actually conduct enough current to trip a breaker in case of a hot-to-ground short. In fact, the resistance may be such that it could heat up and start a fire.
    – DoxyLover
    Aug 30, 2016 at 0:57

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