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Three very old non-grounding type electrical receptacle outlets

Replace A Two Prong Non-Grounded Outlet

Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I replace a two prong outlet that is not grounded?  When I plug cords into my two-prong non-grounded electrical receptacle outlets they keep falling out. Answer: You need to determine what your options are when replacing the two-prong non-grounded electrical receptacle outlets.  The BIG question is whether or not you have an approved grounding conductor in the outlet box which would allow you to replace the old outlet with a new 3-prong grounding type tamper resistant electrical receptacle.  NOTE: Text links go to applicable products on Amazon.com You can easily check this with a voltage tester.  Put one lead of the voltage tester on the screw for the wall plate.  Make sure there is no paint on the screw.  Put the other lead in each hole of the receptacle.  If it indicates that you have power, you probably have a ground connection to the box.  You can also use a pigtail light bulb socket to do this simple test. If the test indicates that you do not have a ground at the electrical receptacle outlet's location, see about using GFCI's as a replacement further down below. Steps to Replace Two Prong Outlet To replace the two prong electrical receptacle outlet, turn off the power to this circuit at the circuit breaker panel.  Use a voltage tester to confirm that the power is off and double check at each step throughout the process. You must take apart the receptacle by removing the wall plate first.  Unscrew the center screw (Or upper and lower screws) counter-clockwise.  Pry away the wall plate from the receptacle.  The wall plate may be held onto the wall and/or the receptacle by many coats of paint.  Use a razor knife to score along the outer edges of the wall plate.  Also score along the outer face of the receptacle.  If the wall plate does not loosen from the knife, try getting a small flat putty knife behind it.  In some cases you may just have to break off the wall plate, but the face of the receptacle may come off also.  Do this with the power off. Some newer style wall plates have the screws hidden.  You must pry away the front of the wall plate using a small flat screwdriver.  Pry gently and evenly from all corners. Remove the two screws securing the receptacle to the wall box and gently pull the receptacle away from the wall.  If the screws break off, you might be able to grab them with a pair of Vise-Grip Pliers and slowly turn them out.  If that doesn't work you may have to drill out the old screw and tap the hole and install a new screw.  The standard receptacle screw thread is 6/32.  It is a number 6 machine screw with 32 threads per inch.  The screw head is usually a flat head or a low profile round head.  If necessary you can re-tap the hole to 8/32 and use an 8/32 flat head machine screw.  Use my drill, tap and screw...