Upgrading Non-Grounded Outlets

Most items in our home use electricity. Most outlets are rather consistent, but there is one difference that you should become familiar with: non-grounded outlets and grounded outlets

Grounded v Non-grounded Outlets

You may have noticed this already, but there are two basic types of outlets: outlets with two slots and outlets with three slots. Outlets with two slots are non-grounded outlets, while outlets with three slots are grounded outlets. So what's the difference?

Non-grounded outlets have a wire that allows "live" power into the outlet from the power company. There's also a second wire that goes from the outlet to the power company. Grounded outlets have the previous two wires and one extra wire- a "ground" wire. This wire is made for your safety. If something happens to create an excess amount of electricity to reach the outlet, the ground wire takes the shock of the excess energy and focuses that energy to the ground to keep you and your family safe. 

Ever since 1962, anyone building new homes were required to use grounded outlets. However, older houses may still have non-grounded outlets. 

Reasons to Upgrade

There are a variety of reasons to upgrade non-grounded outlets:

1. Safety

First and foremost, grounded outlets are much safer. Without the ground wire, when a surge of unexpected electricity reaches a non-grounded outlet, there's a much higher chance of fire and electrocution. 

2. Electrical shortage

Plugging certain items into a non-grounded outlet can overwhelm a non-grounded outlet and create an electrical shortage. During an electrical shortage, the item you plugged in will be ruined. 

3. Compatibility

Since non-grounded outlets are an outdated technology, many items today don't even have a plug that will fit into a non-grounded outlet. 

Updating Non-grounded Outlets

The easiest way to upgrade your non-grounded outlets is to install a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This will only take a professional about 20 minutes and cost $100 - $200 each outlet. These are best for kitchens and bathrooms and does not completely ground the outlet. 

The other option is to install ground outlets in the place of non-grounded outlets. This can cost about $300 per outlet. When you've decided to upgrade the older outlets in your home, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before getting started:

  • A qualified electrician must do the job- this is not a DYI project
  • Every outlet must be updated individually
  • This job requires extra wiring

Contact a service, like Cal-Service Electric Repairs 4 Less, for more help.