Updating old outlets

Without a grounded outlet, that path is either through your appliance which will fry your TV, computer, microwave, etc. You may think that having a surge protector is enough, but surge protectors only work properly when attached to a grounded outlet.There are two possible ways to fix the issue of ungrounded outlets and I’ll walk you through both of them.

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I highly recommend putting a night light or light in the outlet and turn it on. If it doesn’t light up, then check the bottom outlet as well. Then make a drawing if you need to of their position. If your wires are poked into holes in the back of the outlet, you may choose to try to release them by poking a flat head screwdriver into the slot next to the wire, or you will need to cut the wires as close to the outlet as possible. Now strip about 1/4 inch of the insulation from the end of your wire.You can swap out your standard outlet for a GFCI outlet on any ungrounded outlets to provide protection from shocks and surges; however, you will need to add a sticker to the GFCI outlet that reads “No Equipment Ground” which comes with every GFCI outlet.This lets other folks understand what is happening behind the walls in the future.I know several of you would never think of taking apart your outlet. It is a good thing to double and triple check your safety when working with electricity. I highly recommend performing outlet replacements during daylight hours (or have a lamp that you can plug into an extension cord from another room.) Also, don’t let your little ones watch you, we don’t want them to stick a screwdriver in the outlet when you aren’t looking.Therefore, it is best to handle this fix during nap times.Then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out. Turn off your power, double check both outlets with your light to make sure the power is out to both top and bottom outlets. Gently use your wire strippers to clamp down on the wire being sure it is scoring the insulation.Also note that just because two outlets are in the same room, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are on the same circuit. If you need to, rotate your wire strippers 90 degrees and cut through the insulation again.The ground wire provides an alternate path for electricity that may stray from an appliance or product to make its way safely back to the breaker or fuse box and exit the building into the main ground connection.Electricity is like water in that it always chooses the path of least resistance.A common problem found in old houses is the presence of ungrounded outlets.Either you’re stuck with old fashioned 2-prong outlets that won’t fit your 3-prong devices, or someone replaced the old outlets with 3-pronged outlets that don’t have a ground wire.

339 comments

  1. May 16, 2014. shows you what kind of outlets are allowed by electrical codes if you. if I have an old 3-prong 240v outlet for a dryer but I want to upgrade to a.

  2. A homeowner replacing outlets should hear this electrician tell about little. in this way and duplicates the exact connections of the old one, they may not know.

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