Canadian 2 Prong Receptacles

I am doing electrical upgrades to a house, built in the late 50s, so it will pass a home inspection. The original wiring is NMD3 and does not contain a ground wire. Most receptacles are 2 prong.

The electrical inspection code for existing residential occupancies (CSA C22.6 No. 1-11) requires the replacement of these receptacles if required by the inspection authority. This isn’t the case in Saskatchewan. However, when a home inspector looks at the house, he may be influenced by other factors.

What is your opinion of 2 prong receptacles, where a ground wire is not present?

My typical comments in this situation:

· Safety Issue: Most or all of the outlets are the older ungrounded two-slot type. Where clocks, lamps, and other electrical devices with two-prong plugs are to be used, this should not pose a problem. However, for improved safety, properly grounded three-slot outlets should be installed in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, outside, and wherever newer grounded appliances with three-prong plugs are to be used. You should engage a qualified electrician to discuss the options and alternatives available for upgrading to grounded outlets. Repairs should be undertaken as deemed necessary by the electrician.

What is Canada’s position on replacing the two prong receptacles with GFCI as an upgrade, without installing a ground?

That is an acceptable upgrade.

Man I dislike that upgrade. I understand it, I just dislike the reliance on the GFCI which will be there forever and eventually fail. I would rather people just run a ground wire or leave it two pronged.

Good note Marcel, that’s exactly what I discuss with clients. It’s actually kind of surprising how many things are still just two prong plugs.

No problem here as long as they are GFCI protected. We are not using AFCI to protect bedrooms in older homes.
I agree with most being changed to three prong also.
Reason is most of the old two prongs will not hold the plugs in correctly.

No problem here as long as they are GFCI protected

Kevin I believe that statement is not technically correct. In Ontario two wire is acceptable in existing homes without GFCI. If the home is to be re-wired an upgrade to grounded recptacles is required.

Please correct me if I am wrong

GFCI’s are better than the ungrounded two slot receptacle but for improved safety, properly grounded three-slot outlets should be installed in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, outside, and wherever newer grounded appliances with three-prong plugs are to be used

Yes, I agree. I just didn’t know if installing GFCI was allowed in Canada as an acceptable upgrade. Thanks.


Bryce you are correct but I think beyond as a safety issue and so should Home Inspectors. I have seen them fail so GFCI protected does not mean safe for two prong in IMO and most are outdated so they have outlived there life expectancy.
I don’t know of any flat screen TV’s that you can use today without a ground so any home that has renovations should be changed to three prong GFCI protected so no kid goes and yanks off the ground prong to plug in the new TV or X-Box ect.

Thanks for the input, everyone. I spent over half a day and didn’t get all the receptacle problems fixed. The house had already failed an inspection and, it turns out, for good reason. I can hardly believe that you guys are lucky enough to look at that kind of stuff every day.

Cameron C. Anderson, I agree that a gfi on a 2 wire circuit is an ugly fix. However, I believe that if the solutions are too expensive, home owners will find a way to get by and they can always find something uglier. Getting a ground wire to a receptacle can be costly.

Kevin Wood, re: AFCI on bedrooms in older homes, for information purposes. Some AFCIs don’t play well with lights and most houses have lights and plugs on the same circuit. Add to that the fact that they cannot protect a 3 wire circuit (3 wire cable with two hots and one neutral), and they are a fix that is likely to get removed, or worse. A receptacle added to a bedroom, regardless of the circumstances, must be AFCI protected.

Bryce W. Jeffrey, you are correct, as pointed out by Mr Wood, about existing 2 wire receptacles, as far as I know, in all Canada.

When I started checking circuits I found that every circuit (4 total) had at least one 3 prong plug installed. The fix that I decided on was to pull those circuits out of the panel and install dead front GFI protection on the entire circuits. I dislike replacing the first receptacle with GFI protection for the down-stream receptacles, because it’s too hard to find the problem when the GFI trips. That being said, I grounded the receptacle used for the fridge and protected a couple downstream receptacles with a GFI receptacle.

I’m hoping the next home inspector takes the time to trip the GFI protection before he writes his report about missing grounds.

As an added note about installing a ground to an ungrounded receptacle, it’s acceptable to bond to an adjacent metal cold-water pipe. With plumbers replacing pieces of water line with Pex, that is probably a less desirable fix than GFI protection.

Again, thanks for your input. I enjoyed your forum and will stop by once in a while to see what’s happening.

We just had a big debate about the AFCI issues but it was on the InterNachi Inspectors access only.
We do have documentation that they are still causing problems with pot lights, dimer switches ect so we have not been installing them on reno’s at least where I am.
I strongly am against them until they can properly be tested by a Home Inspector.
If I see them in a Home I will point out the problems to my client PERIOD.

I to do not think that AFCIs are the best ,But It is not up to us to go against the code If we did and some thing goes wrong we are guilty.

Yes, there is an advantage to knowing the codes in some regards.

That’s the rub to be sure. Replacing them with GFCIs may not be perfect, but people have to be protected from themselves. I still inform them about it, begrudgingly though. :wink:

I was advised by an electrical code inspector to disable the ground socket by injecting silicon into the opening when replacing the original two prong outlet.
This maybe acceptable but I would prefer that new three wire cable be installed.
As for the use of GFCIs I found many attempts did not work as intended. If your upgrading why not do it properly.
Less then code is unacceptable but nothing says you can not go above the code.

Injecting silicon into a receptacle is modifying CSA approved equipment and it loses its approval and the code allows the three prong receptacle on a GFI receptacle. Anyway, what would a home inspector say about a receptacle that had silicone in the receptacle? What would a home inspector say about a gfi receptacle without a ground. Whichever produces a better report is what I need to do.

We can’t test the two prong receptacle which I note on all my reports. I do have a set up to test if they do work but prefer to not test them if the ground is plugged. There is nothing wrong with leaving the ground on a GFCI protected circuit as long as you have indicated it to the home owner or the room is protected with GFCI at the panel or in series.
In my mind it is better not to tell them the three prong has no ground so they don’t think it is a safety hazard.

Ok, I have to admit that I don’t get the GFCI receptacle on an ungrounded system. I have seen them installed in bathrooms but they will not trip when tested. Can some one explain to me how they protect. I have always known that they are an acceptable upgrade but just can’t wrap the old brain around it.