What Are Open Ground Outlets?

An outlet that has an open ground is a three prong outlet that is not properly grounded. The three prongs are the Hot, Neutral, and Ground.

An open ground occurs whenever the ground wire is not correctly attached to the outlet. or the wiring for the house does not have a ground wire. Some older wiring in houses only have two wires, the "hot" and the "neutral", such as knob and tube wiring or some of the older rag romex wiring. If there is no ground wire at the house wiring, then a three prong outlet should not be installed. The only exception would be to install a GFCI outlet and place a sticker that states "NO Equipment Ground". The outlet will still not be grounded but with the GFCI protection, it will be safer than a regular two prong outlet or a three prong outlet with an open ground.

Some might think that if an older outlet is not grounded and an open grounded three prong outlet is not grounded; why not change them all to three prong outlets so you can plug everything into them? The reason is that three prong outlets give a false sense of security. Leaving it ungrounded with three prongs may someday affect you or someone else, who would be under the impression this outlet is grounded. This is the same as removing the ground prong from an appliance or tool so that it will fit into a two prong outlet. I heard about someone using an electric drill which had the ground prong removed to fit an older outlet. He then drilled into the wall and hit a live wire. It's a wonder he is still alive today! Do not do this, it is unsafe and could get you or someone else killed.

The best scenario would be to have all of your outlets three prong and grounded. If you can not have this because of the wiring in your home, then you should add GFCI outlets instead. A qualified electrician can evaluate your home and tell you what would be best for your particular wiring system.