What do I need to do before I actually ground the outlet?
If you're adding a GFCI outlet, you won't be able to ground the outlet (since there's no ground conductor in the wiring cable). In turn, a "no ground" label must be placed on the face plate. Remember never to replace an older two-prong outlet with a standard three-prong outlet unless the ground wire has been added.
Before getting started, you should do a few things:
Check local electrical codes
Purchase a circuit tester to figure out which outlets need to be grounded
Go to your circuit panel and turn off the breakers connected to the outlet you're trying to ground
Remove the cover plate on the receptacle
Once you’ve done these things, you’re ready for the next step.
What do I need to do to ground the outlet?
After completing the previous steps, you can move to the more challenging part. This begins with examining the receptacle (or outlet) itself:
Remove the receptacle by unscrewing the mounting screws and then pull it from the box.
Check the wiring: If you have three wires (black, white, and copper), you can simply attach the grounding wire. If there are only two wires, attach the GFCI receptacle. A "no ground" label must be placed on the face of the outlet cover plate to indicate there's no functional ground present.
Now you can move to grounding the outlet:
Connect the grounding wire (if present) to the grounding terminal. You can do this by looping the grounding wire over the green terminal screw and tightening it with a screwdriver. Using a pair of pliers, make a loop at the end of the copper wire and place the loop on the terminal screw to secure it.
Secure the receptacle by covering the terminals with electrical tape and then push the receptacle back into the box. Ensure the copper wire does not touch a “hot” wire and then screw the receptacle back on.
Turn the power back on and then use the circuit tester to make sure you grounded the outlet correctly.
Taking on this task yourself can save a good amount of money, and makes for an interesting little afternoon project.
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