How to Add a Ground to a Two-Wire Electrical Service

Adding a ground to a two-wire electrical service can be done by installing a receptacle with a green ground terminal. The electrical box can be grounded by attaching a green electrical ground wire from the ground terminal to a ground terminal attached to the back of the electrical box, giving the electrical current access to the ground. You can add a ground to the two-wire electrical service in about an hour or two with some common tools.

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker for the receptacle at the breaker box, and remove the cover plate for the electrical outlet by unfastening the screw with a screwdriver. Unfasten the screws on the top and bottom of the existing receptacle with the screwdriver, and pull the receptacle out of the electrical box.

  2. Loosen the terminal screws on the receptacle with a screwdriver, and remove the electrical wires from the terminals. Discard the old receptacle, and loosen the terminal screws on the new receptacle with a screwdriver just enough to hook the electrical wires around the screws.

  3. Attach the black (positive) wire to the brass terminal, and tighten the terminal screw over the wire. Fasten the white (negative) wire to the silver terminal, and secure the terminal screw on the wire.

  4. Cut a 6-inch piece of green electrical ground wire with wire cutters, and trim the insulation back on both ends of the wire about 3/4 inch from the ends. Fasten a green terminal screw to the back of the electrical box, and hook one end of the green ground wire around the screw.

  5. Tighten the terminal screw around the ground wire in the back of the box. Hook the other end of the ground wire around the green ground terminal on the new receptacle and tighten the terminal screw on the ground wire.

  6. Place the new receptacle with the wires into the electrical box, and secure the receptacle to the electrical box with screws. Attach the cover plate over the new receptacle with a screw, and turn the circuit breaker back on for the new receptacle at the breaker box.


  • To avoid electric shock, always turn off the circuit breaker to the receptacle before attempting to add the ground wire.
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