To Ground Or Not To Ground...

3-prong vs. 2-prong outlets



Most of us don't think twice about the electrical outlets in our homes. You know, the receptacles in the walls that look like they are shocked (sorry, bad pun) to see you? Unless you own a home older than 1962, you probably have never seen a 2-prong outlet. Though, you most likely have an ancient small appliance or two that correspond to those outlets. IYKYK!


Purchasing a home with ungrounded outlets is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it can lead to potential safety hazards.



After 1962, the National Electric Code changed the rules of ungrounded wiring in new construction to minimize the risk of electric shock as well as to prevent electrical equipment damage. However, don't be fooled if you see 3-prong outlets in your home. The presence of these outlets does not guarantee the wiring is grounded!


Teach Me Oh Wise One.

Let's learn a little about outlets in general. The two vertical slits on an outlet indicate the hot wire, which provides electricity, and the neutral wire, which sends electricity back to the main panel. The third opening in 3-prong outlets is the ground wire. This wire acts as a shortcut to direct any excess electricity safely into, you got it, the ground. For a better description, check out our video https://youtu.be/A8Lk7LGhKtI.


Danger Will Robinson!

If you overload the wiring in an ungrounded outlet, the current seeks the closest path to the ground. Ungrounded outlets have the potential to electrocute a family member who is plugging in an appliance or cause electrical fires. No one wants extensive repairs to the home and equipment or expensive hospital stays.

But I have 3-prong outlets all over my house!

Having these outlets in your home may give you a false sense of security because, of course, they are all grounded, right? Well, unfortunately, if your home was remodeled by an unlicensed company or a weekend warrior, you run the risk of the wiring not being installed correctly. Also, in older homes, you may find a combination of grounded and ungrounded outlets. This can mean a messy, hard-to-manage, electrical system in your home.


The easiest and quickest way to determine if your outlets are grounded is to purchase an electrical outlet tester. These testers can identify some, but not all, common wiring problems. While some are multifunctional, others are single-task devices. Or, if you feel your outlets are not grounded, and want to get a professional inspection, give us a ring.


Now What?

Once it has been determined your house has ungrounded electrical outlets, call a licensed electrician to rewire them.


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