replacing outlets in older home

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  #1  
Old 02-17-03, 01:15 PM
pmskippy
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Question replacing outlets in older home

The outlets (plugs?) in my mothers older home need to be replaced. They are so old there are only 2 prongs in the plug. Can I just replace them with new 3 prong outlets or does the wiring in the house need to be replaced? I replaced all mine in my kitchen but only because I wanted to change the color. I put in the same as I took out, but that is all I know about electrical.
Thanks!
 
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Old 02-17-03, 01:47 PM
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Exactly why do they need to be replaced?

If you are just replacing receptacles without wiring changes, and if you do not already have a grounding connection, you have the following two options:

(1) Provide GFCI protection and replace with 3-hole receptacles, or

(2) Replace with 2-hole receptacles.

Let's assume you want the simplest solution, which is (2). You can still buy 2-hole receptacles, but you'll have to look just a bit harder and the selection will be smaller.

Be careful if you run into any receptacles that are split wired (i.e., either half is switched and half is always live, or the two halves are on different circuits). Special considerations are required here.

If you have aluminum wiring, or if you have crumbling insulation on the wires, I urge you to stop and let a pro handle it.
 
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Old 02-17-03, 01:52 PM
pmskippy
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Thanks John for your quick reply!
I think they should be replaced because nothing stays plugged in to them; they are very loose and just fall out of the plugs. Can I assume from reading prior posts (and there alot of them on this issue-sorry I should have read them first), there might be a grounding wire there when I remove the outlet? Then I could replace with a 3 prong outlet?
Thanks again!
 
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Old 02-17-03, 02:23 PM
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It seems unlikely that you will find a grounding wire, but you might find a grounded metallic box if you've been really good. You'll need a circuit tester to check.
 
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Old 02-21-03, 06:44 AM
jjrick
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John,

You brought up something I have always wondered about in older homes where they just cut off the grounding wire. I have always heard that, for insurance reasons, you should never replace a two prong recept. with a three prong as there is no grounding there and it could give the owner the idea that there is.

Is it a better idea to replace those recpt. with GFCI's as oppose to two prong as there is considerable difference in the cost?

JJRICK
 
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Old 02-21-03, 06:52 AM
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It's not just for insurance reasons. The National Electrical Code prohibits replacing two-hole receptacles with three-hole receptacles without either a grounding connection or a GFCI.

As to what is a "better idea", that depends on the situation. GFCIs offer great personal protection, but they do nothing for grounding, and I wouldn't want my chest freezer on one.
 
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Old 02-21-03, 10:16 AM
jjrick
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Got It...thanks for the info

JJRICK
 
  #8  
Old 02-23-03, 12:05 PM
pmskippy
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Great info here! In checking further in the house; there are 3 prong outlets in all the rooms in the house except the bedrooms. Of course there are no GFCI's anywhere in the house (40+ years old-didn't exist then???). I thought I would turn off the power in the rooms that have 3 prong outlets and also the rooms with the 2 prong outlets and compare. If they are the same, then can I replace with 3 prong? Hate to be dense on this but I am trying to save some money for my mother and also do the job right; if it's a job I can do safely and correctly........
Thanks guys!
 
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Old 02-23-03, 12:20 PM
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I really don't care if they are the "same" (whatever that means) or not. Let me repeat the rule. You must either have grounding or GFCI to use three-hole receptacles. Otherwise, you must use two-hole receptacles.

Sometimes it is difficult, however, for people to figure out if they have grounding. If you need help, pull out one of the receptacles and let us know what you find.
 
  #10  
Old 02-23-03, 12:26 PM
PhilG
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John, I'd like to know why you wouldn't want your "chest freezer on one".
That is a GFCI?
 
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Old 02-23-03, 12:32 PM
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Not often, but GFCIs trip sometimes. It can happen if someone does something like splash a bit of water near a receptacle. I wouldn't want to lose hundreds of dollars of food on something like that. In general, don't put anything on a GFCI that could cause a big problem if it were to trip (e.g., smoke detector, refrigerator, freezer, garage door opener, iron lung, sump pump).
 
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