Converting (presumably) non-grounded outlets

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-21-05, 11:49 PM
kernelgt
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Converting (presumably) non-grounded outlets

I am about to purchase a home builit in the 50s that has almost exclusively the 2-prong electrical recepticles and am interested in what is normally required to upgrade them to grounded, 3-prong recepticles. The kitchen and bathrooms both have the GFCI (?) type recepticles and the home inspector indicated that they are grounded properly, but all of the other outlets in the home are the old 2-prong style. In the basement at least, the home is wired with flexible metal conduit, and I am unsure about the upper levels. The electrical service panel is a new circuit breaker box, but other than what I mentioned, the home is exclusively outfitted with 2-prong recepticles.

If I were to pursue upgrading to 3-prong, what is a reasonable range of price estimates/scenarios/issues that I might expect to find? Or could I, for example, mitigate costs by having an electrician only rewire/ground/upgrade one recepticle in each room and leave the others as is?


Thanks for your help,
Steve
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-22-05, 06:48 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
What you should have done would be to have asked the home inspector to see if the other receptacle boxes are grounded. He or she could have done this with a two prong tester, possibly needing to remove the cover plate. A receptacle here or there could have been checked and it would not have been a big deal. I realize that you have already had your inspection done, so I mention this so that others in the same situation can ask their home inspector to check for them.

The other receptacle boxes may be grounded. This needs to be checked first. As I stated above, this can be done quickly with a two prong tester, but eventually requires a visual inspection of the boxes and the actual wiring.

If the boxes are grounded, then three prong receptacles can be installed. You will need either self grounding receptacles or pigtails.

If the boxes are not grounded then you have several options.

One option is to replace the wiring. This is the most expensive option, because it requires the most work and the most materials. Depending on the house and how open it is, it can get pretty expensive.

Another option is to only ground those receptacles where you need a ground. Things like computers and home entertainment systems need a ground. Most devices don't and won't benefit from one. It is permissible to install a separate wire to provide the ground.

A third option is to have new circuits run where you want a ground, and to leave the original wiring intact. This helps with power problems, too. By power problems I mean too much on a single circuit.

The above options are your only ones for addressing the issue of needing a ground.

If you don't actually need a ground, but rather only need the protection of a ground then it is permissible to install a GFCI receptacle and leave it ungrounded. If you do this, you can safely use appliances that need a ground only for safety. With the GFCI properly installed, you can even replace downstream receptacles with three prong ones and leave them ungrounded.

My recommendation is to only ground those receptacles that need a ground, or to install new circuits at specific locations for specific purposes. I would then leave any and all other receptacles as ungrounded.
 
  #3  
Old 12-22-05, 09:35 AM
kernelgt
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thanks for the information. If I am understanding you correctly, I can have an electrician take care of converting/grounding just one or two receptacles where I need a ground (entertainment center, home office, etc) without much problem and for much less money (depending on home layout, etc).
 
  #4  
Old 12-22-05, 09:49 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
It's certainly much easier and cheaper to run a few ground wires than it is to completely rewire.

However, with the load you mention (home entertainment center, home office), you will be much better served if you have new circuits installed. In the 1940s and 1950s they did not anticipate the electrical needs of today, so they put numerous receptacles and lights on a circuit, many more than would be done today.

Running one or two new circuits will not be much more expensive than running a ground wire to the same number of receptacles.
 
  #5  
Old 12-22-05, 09:55 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,944
Received 42 Votes on 40 Posts
Originally Posted by kernelgt
If I am understanding you correctly, I can have an electrician take care of converting/grounding just one or two receptacles where I need a ground (entertainment center, home office, etc) without much problem and for much less money (depending on home layout, etc).
Yes, that is correct. It may also be very close in price to just have the electrician install a new circuit with grounded receptacles in the area(s) you need them. Usually, there is just as much labor in grounding existing receptacles as there is in running a new circuit; plus, you end up with more electrical capacity for modern appliances.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: