If there is no ground wire, your best option is to connect a GFCI outlet to the undergrounded 2-prong outlet, given that the local codes permit it. You can also upgrade the panel, although it is an expensive option and you might not want to go through that.
However, you must not ground the electrical box when there is no ground wire. This will result in a short circuit and energize the electrical box. As a result, the box will overheat and start a fire.
What to Do if There Is No Ground Wire
In old houses, people regularly face a common issue which is about the undergrounded outlets. They find the ground wire missing in the electrical box when installing a new fixture. In most cases, you will find the old-fashioned 2-prong receptacles. Even if you find a 3-prong outlet, there is no ground wire included.
Grounding the Wire
If you find a ground wire loose, you simply have to ground it. With a grounding wire, the surplus electricity will have a place to go. Grounding the wire yourself is a relatively easy task, once you have the proper tools and instructions.
Get yourself a circuit tester and test your outlet. you have to plug the tester into each outlet and test the lights. If there is a red light indicating that an outlet is not grounded properly, mark that outlet out with masking tape.
The next step is to turn off the electrical main box. Remove the cover plate of the outlet as well as the receptacles using a screwdriver. If there is a grounding wire that has become loose or disconnected, you can simply make a loop over the green terminal of the outlet and secure them using a screwdriver.
GFCI as an Alternative to Ground
Although, according to the regulations of the National Electrical Codes (NEC), the homeowners are not supposed to make changes to existing two-conductor wiring. If you live in an old home and find that there is no ground wire, your only real option is GFCI. Find out if a 3-prong GFCI outlet is permitted for undergrounded 2-prong outlets.
Hire an experienced electrician before starting this process. The electrician will disconnect the hot or black wire from the outlet and connect it to the brass “line” terminal on the GFCI. Then he will disconnect the neutral wire and connect it to the “load” terminal.
The procedures involve leaving the ground terminal disconnected. Although the GFCI outlet will provide shock and fire prevention, it will not protect the electronic equipment from a power surge. Therefore, after replacing the outlet, it is advisable to put a label on the outlet indicating “No Equipment Ground”.
To sum up, the issue of no ground typically occurs with old houses. If you own a relatively new house, chances are that your ground wire has simply become loose or disconnected. Whatever you do with the outlets make sure you have the right tools and proper experience. Otherwise, hire a professional before it is too late to revert.