An ungrounded three-prong outlet increases the potential for shocks or electrocution, and prevents surge protectors from doing their job, which may allow for damage to electronic components.
Any cheap electrical tester will identify an ungrounded three-prong outlet, unless someone really went out of their way to fool the three-prong tester, which would be highly unethical and dangerous. So anyway, back to repairing an ungrounded three-prong outlet.
Make sure you use either a self grounding receptacle or use a short length of green wire to connect the receptacle's ground screw to the box. I agree that the best solution for you would be to install GFCI outlets in place of the 2 prong old style outlets you now have.
Under normal conditions, there should never be any current on the ground wire.
Think of it as an emergency lane on the highway; things should work just fine without it, but when something goes wrong, you better have it.
In my final walkthrough, I found that the electrician did not repair the open-grounded outlets I marked out , instead he installed two-pronged outlets.
It is unclear why he could not find the ground error. 406.4 (D) does not apply here since the structure was once required to have "Grounding-Type" receptacles?
If the house was built in 1986 then you are absolutely correct in that a grounding means would most certainly exist.
So by default there MUST be a grounding means in the wiring.
I haven't looked at any other outlets to compare to, but I assume that that copper wire should be bolted to the metal housing?
Anyhow, is it a good idea to get specification grade receptacles?
There are no green ground wires like on newer houses.