The Switch from Two-Prong to Three-Prong Outlets
One of the more common questions we get from customers regarding electrical work is about making the switch from two-prong receptacles, also known as outlets, to three-prong, grounding receptacles. In older homes with two-prong receptacles, the wiring often does not contain a grounding wire. This presents an inconvenience for the occupants when they want to use something that has a three-prong plug but they only have two-prong outlets. This blog will shed some light on this scenario and what you can do to make your home or commercial building more modern.
Understanding Grounding in Electrical Systems
What exactly is grounding and why is electrical equipment grounded in the first place? Grounding is the process of connecting a ground wire in a circuit to earth. It helps prevent the circuit from being tripped and the event of a ground fault, which can cause electrical shock, burns, or fire. When the fault happens, the excess current is taken to ground as a means of protection for building occupants when using equipment on these circuits.
Importance of Grounding for Safety
Residential and commercial buildings need outlets that feature a grounding wire to operate most modern appliances and machinery. For example, modern HVAC equipment needs to be connected to a circuit that is grounded. There are also specific areas that require ground fault circuit interruption either by a GFCI outlet or GFCI circuit breaker. Some areas that require GFCI protection include kitchen countertop outlets, bathroom outlets, outdoor outlets, outlets in laundry rooms, unfinished basements, and crawl spaces.
Solutions for Upgrading to Three-Prong Outlets
So, what’s the solution to the problem of having two-prong outlets where three-prong outlets are desired and protect users from electrical surges? The best way is to replace the old wiring with wiring methods that contain a ground wire that is connected to the grounding system for the building and install three-prong outlets. This truly grounds all the outlets, switches, fixtures, and equipment that may be utilized on that circuit. With this method being the best, it’s also a more involved repair to rewire an entire space that some building owners may not elect to choose.
Installing GFCI Outlets as an Alternative Method
Another method to replace two-prong outlets is to install a GFCI outlet at the first outlet in the circuit to protect the remaining outlets in the circuit. This process involves knowledge of electrical theory and specific equipment to ensure that the GFCI is put in the proper place. Once it’s determined that the GFCI outlet is in the proper place, it must be marked on the receptacle or the receptacle cover “No Equipment Ground.” The remaining outlets can now be changed to three prong outlets marked on the outlet or outlet cover “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground”. At this point, no grounding wire is to be installed in the circuit.
Hodge’s Electrical Services for Wiring Repairs and Upgrades in Roanoke, VA
Hodge’s Electrical, Heating & Air Conditioning Service can provide you with the best options for repair if your building contains old, outdated wiring. That may be rewiring circuits in your home or business and making sure your grounding system is up to code. We also provide customizable options like analyzing your building’s circuits and installing GFCI outlets along with three-prong outlets. Contact us today. You’ll be glad you did.