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January 22,2021

Fixing Ungrounded Outlets

Homes and commercial buildings constructed before the 1980s are frequently ungrounded, putting those living or working inside at serious risk. While codes and building standards have changed, many older properties have been grandfathered in and thus have avoided the requirements to update their old wiring. Sadly, many home buyers have purchased properties that may seem to have up-to-date electrical systems, but in fact, have outlets that remain ungrounded. The trusted electricians at Mr. Electric of Fort Worth enjoy helping local North Texas clients improve the safety and efficiency of their homes and businesses. We want you to have the same peace of mind. Here are the problems associated with ungrounded outlets and what you can do to fix the issue.

Why Are Ungrounded Outlets Dangerous?

Ungrounded outlets are commonly found in older homes. The wiring may have only two conductors (hot wire and neutral wire) with no ground—these types of wiring present safety risks and other complications. When ungrounded wiring is overloaded, the electrical current will move through any conductor to find its way into the earth. This can be dangerous and cause a lot of damage to any devices plugged into the electric outlet. It can also put members of your household in direct danger of electrocution. In addition, as homes age, the protective sheathing on the electrical wiring starts to break down, making matters even worse. This can cause several hazards for homeowners, such as electrical short circuits or dangerous arcing. For this reason, some upgrades may need to be made to ensure safety and prevent accidents.

Determining Whether Your Property Has Ungrounded Outlets

If your home was built before the 1970s, it is important to check if your outlets are properly grounded. One fast and easy way that homeowners often do this is to purchase an outlet tester. While this can alert people to the presence of ungrounded outlets, they aren’t always the most reliable way to detect issues. Some untrustworthy real estate investors have even developed methods for "tricking" these kinds of devices. The best way to find out whether your outlets are up to date is to invest in a professional electrical inspection. Electricians have the experience and specialized tools needed to detect any problems within your wiring properly. 

Don’t Just Replace the Outlet

When property owners realize that their outlets are out of date, many opt to simply replace their two-pronged outlets for a 3-pronged version. While this may seem like the easiest and cheapest solution, it is very dangerous. Switching out the outlets still leaves your loved ones vulnerable to injury and does nothing to address the electrical hazards.

Installing a GFCI

One way to improve the safety of an ungrounded outlet is to replace it with a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. This will not require a wiring upgrade, but each outlet cover must be labeled as "no equipment ground" to alert people within the house that there is still risk. GFCI outlets are used even in properly grounded homes because they help prevent electric shock in areas with high levels of moisture. You will often see GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements for this reason.

Benefits of Investing in a Wiring Upgrade

Even after installing GFCI outlets, ungrounded wiring remains a dangerous issue that should be taken care of as soon as possible. While rewiring your electrical system does require an investment, neglecting to do so significantly reduces your property value, puts your home at risk of electrical fires, and could cause serious or even fatal injury.

Is Your Outdated Electrical System Putting Your Home at Risk? Call Our Electricians Today

Are you tired of worrying about the safety of your old home? Take control of the problem right away and ensure the well-being of your property and your loved ones. The technicians at Mr. Electric of Fort Worth offer premium services, including electrical inspections, outlet installations, and wiring upgrades.