Grounding an Outlet
What to do when there's no box to use as a ground
My house was built in the early 1950s. I want to ground my outlets, but there is no metal box in the wall to ground them to. Other than a new fuse box, the house has its original wiring. How do I go about upgrading the wiring so that the outlets can be grounded?
Stuart, Baltimore, Maryland
Steve Thomas replies: The first question that comes to mind is: If you don't have a metal box in the wall, what do you have? Flip off the breaker or pull the fuses, then remove the wall plate and look behind the plug. If you find no box at all, that indicates a wiring job not done to code. Get a qualified electrician to look at the situation immediately.
If you have plastic boxes in the wall, it indicates that there has been some rewiring performed since the house was built. You should still get an electrician to look at it. In general, a licensed electrician should perform all electrical work. Depending on local codes, it may not even be legal for you to do your own electrical work.