Wondering if you really need to replace those old two-prong outlets in your home to newer three-prong outlet models? Replacing two prong outlets is ideal for safety, but there’s more to swapping out your outlets than a couple of screws, a new receptacle box, and some basic wiring.
What’s the Big Deal with that Extra Prong?
Two-prong outlets were standard in older homes built before the 1960s. Two-prong outlets are ungrounded, lacking the ground wire that provides protection from electrical surges, putting you and your family at risk of…
- Electrical fire
- Damage to expensive electronics and appliances
When You Were a Kid, It was Bad to Be Grounded
As an adult, being ‘grounded’ in your home is both good and important. What does it mean to be ‘grounded’? Every outlet, even two-prong, has a hot wire, for delivering electricity, and a neutral wire, for sending electricity back to the main electric panel. Without the magical third wire, the ‘ground,’ if too much electricity is delivered to an outlet, it has nowhere to go. Ground needs a safe exit, through a ground wire connected to each outlet, and farther down the electrical line through a large, properly grounded wire sunk deep into the dirt outside your home, where it can be absorbed safely into the earth. (Unfortunately, if most of the outlets in your home are two-prong, there’s a good chance your home has not been grounded either.)
How Hard is it to Change a 2 Prong Outlet to 3?
Adding a ground wire is the safest way to change a two-prong outlet to a three-prong, but it’s not for novices. Professional installation is necessary, as adding a ground involves attaching a new ground wire to your megawatt-producing main electrical panel, and running a new ground wire to each ungrounded outlet. This may require more than one ground wire addition, depending on how many of your home’s circuits include ungrounded receptacles. A professional electrician can tell which outlets in your home have been properly and safely grounded, and if your home itself is grounded as well.
Not the First Owner of Your Older Home?
Don’t assume just because your older home has been remodeled at some point, your three-prong outlets are actually grounded. Have it confirmed by an experienced electrician. Inexperienced DIY-ers are quick to assume because they’ve simply swapped a two-prong receptacle for a three-prong one, they’ve handled the situation. They haven’t. Worse, they’ve put the individuals who later buy that home at risk, leaving them in the dark on the very real fire and shock risks lurking behind their walls.
What Other Fire Safety Hazards are Lurking In Your Home?
Need some help to take things up a notch? Replace the two-prong outlets in your home to safe, grounded three-prong outlets with the help of Mr. Electric today.