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Removing grounding plug from cord - stupid, but illegal?

  1. Aug 5, 2009 #1
    Hi all. In the building I live in, some people I know have removed the ground plug from their three-pronged appliances in order to plug them into the house's older, two-wire setup. There is only a limited number of 3-conductor outlets in the house.

    I've urged them to stop doing this because of the dangers involved (Also not being GFCI'd), but ultimately they do it anyway. Now my question is, is this illegal for any reason? Does it violate any fire or electrical codes? Does having 3-pronged appliances ungrounded put the building 'out of compliance'?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2009 #2


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    Firstly is the item actually grounded?
    Many appliances today with plastic bodies are double insulated and don't use the ground pin. Generally they have a symbol with one square inside another on them somewhere.
    These appliances in the UK often have a plastic earth pin because you need to have some sort of earth pin to open the shutters on the live/neutral holes in the socket.

    Compliance depends on where you live, it would probably put the item out of compliance with CE but not the builing.
  4. Aug 5, 2009 #3


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    A much safer option would be to buy 3-prong to 2-prong adapters - the ones with a grounding tab to connect to the screw that fastens the face-plate to the outlet. Those adapters maintain polarity (another safety feature) and provide a ground-reference to the metal outlet box. I'm assuming the outlet boxes are metal because in the US, before grounded outlets were required, the majority of the boxes were metal and the ground wire from the house wiring was attached to the box by a screw.
  5. Aug 5, 2009 #4
    Sorry, I should have specified location. I live in minnesota. Yes, these are appliances that actually use the ground cable such as freezers, computers, etc. The gang boxes here are not generally metal, even new ones.
  6. Aug 5, 2009 #5


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    Pop a couple of faceplates and verify that. The use of plastic outlet boxes didn't take off until the use of 3-prong grounded outlets was mandated. I have owned older and newer houses over the years and the two with ungrounded outlets (I upgraded them over the years) all featured metal boxes, not plastic.
  7. Aug 5, 2009 #6
    You are correct...The boxes in this particular house are likely over 100 years old. I know for a fact that they are not grounded. I've looked up and down to figure out how to ground them (or find the ground hanging in the wall) but I've given up on that.
  8. Aug 5, 2009 #7


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    That's a tough situation. You might check with your local building inspection department (usually at City Hall or some other city building). In some places, in order for a home to be sold/bought, it needs to be brought up to certain code levels, and this may include grounded outlets. It's a pain to run the grounds after a house is built, but it can be done in most cases. You could also see if there is a local law that requires a house to be up to code in order to be rented (I assume you are renting now?).
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