In this Blog I would like to talk about Electrical Home Safety! Safety is a topic you’ll see electricians covering on a very regular basis. Why is this? Well for one, electricity is, by its nature, volatile. Its dangerous! Humans have harnessed it, sure. But nearly any amount of misuse can result in dangers, fires that cause property loss, and even potentially fatalities. There are few Dangers in your home that can be more hazardous to you and your family. Today though, I would like to talk to you about ungrounded electrical outlets. Not sure what an ungrounded outlet is? Don’t worry, because the experts at Innovative Electric are here to bring you the basics right now.
WHAT ARE UNGROUNDED OUTLETS?
In Maryland, there is a huge amount of homes Installed with wiring prior to the 1970’s. The older this wiring it, the more likely you have Ungrounded Outlets in your Home. You’ve probably seen lots of ungrounded outlets and never really known it or thought about it. In a standard home setup with currently safe outlets you’ll see a “three prong configuration.” Two of these are longer openings and run up and down, while the last creates an almost circle under the top two. It’s that small one on the bottom that is important, because that is what makes the outlet a “grounded” one. When you use a 3 prong outlet tester, we can see if all three prongs actually work and then decide how to fix the issues. That third prong working correctly can save your life by ensuring the Breaker trips incase of a fault!
If anything were to go wrong with that outlet, say a transient charge (overload), the grounding wire on the appliance would send that charge “to ground” or into the grounding wire. It makes sure the breaker is tripped and that voltage will not continue to flow or be present at that device. In the case of an ungrounded outlet, or a “two prong configuration” that grounding wire is not present, and thus an overload would have nowhere to go except the closest current it could follow, that being the appliance itself, a nearby organic object (your hand), or into the atmosphere in your home—which can result in a fire.
Ungrounded outlets were the standard until the mid 60s and you could find them in nearly any home. But since they didn’t handle the growing electrical needs of homeowners, and they represented a dangerous hazard, they were phased out in favor of the now standard grounded outlets. And in case you were wondering, ungrounded outlets are not considered up to code. That’s why we strongly recommend updating or upgrading outlets on your current home, or a new home you’re looking to purchase.
IS IT HARD TO REPLACE UNGROUNDED OUTLETS?
From the perspective of an electrician it’s actually very simple, provided the wiring in your home is in good shape. You can expect it to be a project that needs to be handled by a professional electrician, since it requires direct contact with potentially dangerous wiring, but the process can be handled and done with in a surprisingly short amount of time, and it doesn’t typically rank high on a cost scale. Do you have ungrounded outlets in your home, or is it time for an NEC code inspection? If so, call on the specialists at Innovative Electric! We’ve been helping Baltimore homeowners stay safely plugged in for generations, so contact us online today for your consultation!