How should I fix this? (Ungrounded 3 Prong Outlets)

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Old 05-05-05, 12:21 PM
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How should I fix this? (Ungrounded 3 Prong Outlets)

Hi all, this month I'm going to be purchasing the house I've been renting from a family member. I'm trying to make sure it's ready for a smooth transition, especially with the insurance agent.

My house was built in 1958 and there is no ground buss in the 60 amp fuse panel. All of the outlets in my house have been changed to 3-prong, however almost all test as ungrounded.

Should I replace my outlets that test as ungrounded with 2-prong outlets, or ground all the outlets? Do insurance agents generally test for proper grounding?

After I buy the place I'm going to have the service upgraded to 100 amps and have the place rewired. I just don't want any trouble with getting the place insured so I can get my loan closed.

What should I do? I don't want to hold the previous owner responsible for changing to 3-prong outlets without having provided a ground.

Thanks for any help.
 
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Old 05-05-05, 12:29 PM
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All of the outlets in my house have been changed to 3-prong, however almost all test as ungrounded.
This is a code violation, unless the receptacles are GFCI protected. But I don't think this is something the insurance agent would check for.

Personally, I'd just wait to see what the insurance agent says. Even if the insurance agent requires changes, he will almost certainly give you a certain amount of time (60 or 90 days) to comply, and will insure your house until then.

Rewiring a house to ground all the outlets can be very expensive--perhaps as much as $10,000 in some homes. Although it is typical for the insurance company to require an upgrade above 60 amp service, I don't believe it is typical to require an upgrade to all grounded outlets.
 
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Old 05-05-05, 12:44 PM
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Thanks!

I did have some trouble even finding an insurance company who would insure my (soon to be) house with the fuse service. Some flat-out wouldn't even insure it period, others wanted over $1000 per year to do so.

I have found a company who will insure it and their initial quote is $670 per year. But they would have to send in an inspector before insuring it. Thatís what Iím worried about.

It is ok to have 3 prong outlets that are not grounded as long as they're gfci protected? That would actually make my problem much easier to deal with. The outlets in the kitchen and bathroom are 3-prong and grounded, as is the outlet for the clothes washer. I have already installed gfci in the bathroom, and planned to do so in the kitchen after I buy the place. It would be easy to just do it now instead of waiting.

I would not have a problem installing gfci outlets to protect all the receptacle circuits throughout the entire house. It's a 1200 ft^2 ranch with 1/2 basement. The outlets in the basement are gfci protected and 3-prong. An inspector wouldn't have a problem with finding ungrounded 3-prong outlets as long as they're labeled as being ungrounded and labeled as being gfci protected?

I like that idea better than crawling around with a bare ground wire (which would only be temporary anyway since I plan on upgrading the entire service and wiring very soon.) trying to hook it somehow to each ungrounded outlet in my house.
 
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Old 05-05-05, 03:02 PM
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Jason,

Personally if it were me ( even if I am a Electrician ) I would go with John's idea and GFCI the curcuit. If you can determine the first recept. in each circuit and place the GFCI at that point and then label all the others as such....and that no ground is present you should be fine until you upgrade.

I find that most insurance companies ask one basic question...if it AL or CU wire...lol.......they will NAIL ya if it happens to be AL wire...lol...and in many cases wont insure it or it costs you a small island in the south pacific to do so...

In your case go with the GFCI and Labels......some insurance companies even have a problem with that....BUT in most cases you can get an electrician to write a letter saying it is safe on GFCI and safe for them to insure and they will...I know because I have wrote these letters before when we have done electrical inspections of our own for contracts.

And trust me John is right...you DO NOT want to hear the cost of trying to run a ground to all those outlets.....you are better off with the GFCI...

The point here is DO NOT bring up information that they do not ask you for...that important because you would be surprised who brings up things when they should have just stayed quiet.....as far as getting insurance goes...anyway best of luck to you....John is right the GFCI is your best and most cost effective way to go....then the recepts can stay as they are...

The only real thing the inspector will look for is AL wire for the most part....sure he will plug in the little circuit tester maybe...but if you GFCI it you can show him it is protected and I am sure he will read the labels...really your only choice for a quick fix until you plan on upgrades.
 
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Old 05-05-05, 03:09 PM
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Excellent!

I will certainly heed you guys' advice.

Thank you sincerely for your help.

I will keep my yap shut and answer what questions that are asked. Interestingly enough, there is a ground wire included on the old silver-skinned looking wire that is in my house. Looks like about 16g. None of them seem to be hooked to anything in the panel. I believe they're just clipped off at the panel side and the outlet side. Every junction box I've opened has had the ground either just stuffed loosely in the box or clipped off. Never hooked up.

There is a small web of ground wire snaking through my crawlspace hooked to a water pipe. I believe this will be changed when the place is rewired. I also assume this is where the grounds that do seem to exist in my kitchen, bath, and washing machine are hooked.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 05-05-05, 07:09 PM
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In Philly a house cannot be sold until a service with fuses or a a badly deteriorated service is upgraded.Since the house was built in 58' there should be a groundwire in the old NM cable its a 16 AWG.Common practices were to cut them short,or wrap them around a cable connector screw.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 07:44 AM
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Wouldn't it be easier to get the new electrical panel before the inspector comes by? That way you would have a ground buss in the panel and everything should be OK.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 08:06 AM
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I would really love to do that. It's a long story. The family member I'm buying the house from doesn't have all her oars in the water anymore. She has requested that I do nothing 'major' to the house until after I buy it.

Even though almost everything I'm waiting to do would increase the house's value. (Just had to use that smiley)

I'm considering changing all the outlets except the ones that seem to be grounded (which sounds like a lot, but we're talking original electrical system from 1958 with 2 or 3 outlets per room) back to 2 prong and gfci protect them.

I'm just trying to prepare for many angles. If the inspector plugs in his/her gfci tester and tries to use it on a 3 prong outlet that isn't really grounded I don't want to have to try and convince him it's safe that way.

I'm probably just worrying too much anyway. I know I would be suspicious if I were inspecting a home with a 60 amp fuse service and found newer looking 3 prong outlets everywhere. I don't think I've ever seen a 60 amp fuse service with a ground bar in the panel.

So right now it's a toss up between just gfci protecting the current 3-prong outlets, or replacing the 3 prong ungrounded outlets with 2 prong and gfci protecting them.

Thanks!
 
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Old 05-06-05, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Icondude
Wouldn't it be easier to get the new electrical panel before the inspector comes by? That way you would have a ground buss in the panel and everything should be OK.
I am sure that would be nice but considering their is probably no ground going to the boxes and he has no desire to upgrade the wiring right now..he just may open up more issues by changing that at this point before the insurance inspector visits him....

I personally would leave them 3 prong, do the GFCI thing and label them......either way if it is 2 hole recepts he will know it is not grounded if that is his concern...so atleast you show you made an extra effort to make it safer...

Look if the insurance inspector does NOT know it is safer with GFCI's in place versus having nothing then he is in the wrong field....give him my number...I don't mind telling him....thehehehehehe .....
 

Last edited by ElectricalMan; 05-06-05 at 08:32 AM. Reason: My major TYPO thing again.......Man I need typing skills...lol
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Old 05-06-05, 08:31 AM
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I think you should just GFCI protect the 3 prong outlets. It's the cheapest, easiest way and it provides safety. The inspector should be familiar with the code that allows this. Be sure to use the "No Equipment Ground" and "GFCI Protected" stickers that come with the new GFCI receptacles.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 08:45 AM
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If this were my house, I would install two prong receptacles where no ground exists, except for the kitchen and bathroom where I would install a GFCI now, even if a ground exists.

At a later date (after you own the house) you can install GFCI receptacles to protect the ungrounded receptacles.

personally, I would NOT install three prong receptacles even if GFCI protected, unless I really needed a three prong receptacle. If I really needed a three prong receptacle I would make it a GFCI or properly ground it and then use a regular three prong receptacle (unless a GFCI was required). I don't want someone to think a receptacle is grounded when it isn't.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 12:16 PM
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Personally.......why on earth should he pull out the 3 prong ones that are already their....just put in the GFCI..make the inspector happy and label the rest of the recepts and be done with it......as you stated at a later date you can do all the upgrade you wanted.......no need in my opinion to go around changing them now.......easier to label and be done with it until which time you can do all you want to do....just my opinion...as you have already stated you are going to re-wire it later....why go out and buy new 2 prong recepts???

You are not fooling anyone with the 3 prong...code allows it if you label the ones with 3 prong and they are on GFCI.....and since you are buying it you are not fooling anyone to making them believe it is grounded...you know the difference since you are buying the house and posted the question....

The concept of the POST is to get you past the insurance inspector and get you insurance...then you can upgrade.....improve and live happy afterwards without breaking your budget int he meantime....after all ungrounded is ungrounded.....the GFCI is just the safer at this time.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 12:25 PM
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Insurance inspector? Is this some local requirement? I've never heard of such a thing. I've owned seven homes in 5 different states (one home built in the 1940s) and my insurance agent has never come inside any of them, let alone inspected anything.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 12:29 PM
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ElectricalMan,

I disagree, you are fooling some people. But fooling is not perhaps the right word.

I have two receptacles in my living room that are grounded, and they are three prong receptacles. The rest are not grounded, and are two p;prong receptacles.

My wife and children are not fully learned on the issue of grounded and ungrounded receptacles. My wife and children would will use any receptacle they can use. They wouldn't understand, or care, about they harm they might be doing to their electronics (until they did harm them) by using an ungrounded receptacle.
 
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Old 05-06-05, 04:51 PM
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That would happen to be my luck. All this worry and he doesn't even come in the house.

I'll probably just gfci protect all the circuits in my house except the fridge (my guess is the inspector probably won't make me pull out the fridge so he can test that outlet) and washing machine. I'll probably leave the 3 prong outlets there.

That'll take a whole 3 gfci outlets total lol. One good thing about a 60 amp serviced house. Not too many circuits to worry about.
 
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