Question about grounded outlets


Old 08-09-07, 11:52 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 21
Question about grounded outlets

Hello everybody,
I'm new here, so bear with me! I just bought my first house, a 40 year old house, and one of the problems the inspector found was that most of the outlets, despite having three prong outlets, were not truly grounded. The sellers are taking care of all the bedrooms, but as the inspector warned, the living room could not be grounded cheaply (something to do with needing to tear out a whole lot more wall to do that room). My question is this: we want to power a 19" TV in this room. Are there any other options that will enable us to do this? As I know little about electricity, what kind of real danger are we putting ourselves in if we just get a 3-prong to 2-prong adaptor. (I know you shouldn't do that). I know the sellers have had a similar sized TV in there. My biggest concern isn't so much for the TV, as it is our safety. If we are running a slight risk of shorting out the TV, that wouldn't be so bad, but if we're running a slight risk of causing injury, that wouldn't be acceptable.

Any ideas?
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Old 08-10-07, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Wilmington
Posts: 4,219
Most 40 yr old houses do have wires with ground conductors in the cable, they just may not be connected by current code. That can usually be done fairly easily, without tearing out any walls. The ground conductor is usually wrapped around the cable and the box clamp tightened on the cable/ground. But most household appliances, especially TV, VCR, etc., don't have a 3rd prong on the plug anyhow, so why the need. Computers do have and reuire a good ground connection, however.
Old 08-10-07, 06:54 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
If your electronic equipment needs a ground, then the only prudent solution is to properly ground the receptacles. Using an adapter won't cut it.
Old 08-10-07, 10:46 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,298
It will work with a 2 prong adapter. In my semi-professional opinion, you're not losing much safety doing that as the TV is likely plastic anyway, so you don't really have a shock-hazard there. An ungrounded surge protector won't help your TV much in the case of a surge/spike, but since it's only a 19" TV, you're not talking about thousands of dollars of investment. So personally, I woudln't worry about it for a short period of time, but long-term, the right answer is to provide a properly grounded outlet.

Do you have an attic or basement above/below this room? If so, it probably wouldn't be very hard for an electrician (or you - though it will take you more time) to drop a new circuit for your TV and whatever else you want/need in that room. You might even get away without having to patch any walls.

Get an electrician in (preferably one who a friend has recommended), and see what they have to say. They will have a lot more experience fishing wires than the inspector would.

Hope this helps!
Old 08-10-07, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
When the manufacturer puts a three prong plug in a plastic cased device, they do so for a reason, and it;s usually NOT for safety. Usually it is because the ground is used for reference. Not providing one will usually not impact the device working, but it does alter the way it works.
Old 08-10-07, 12:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: port chester n y
Posts: 2,117
Your VERY first electrical project, well within the scope of your abilities, should be recording in table-form exactly what receptacles, fixtures, , appliances, motors,etc., are protected by each fuse/ circuit-breaker.

It MAY be possible to arrange GFI protection on all the LR receptacles by simply replacing an existing receptacle with a GFI receptacle. This requires locating the receptacle outlet-box where the cable from the breaker terminates. If all the LR receptacles are on the same circuit, you table-record will indicate this.

Best of Luck with the "New" house!!!
Old 08-10-07, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
If you have an older-style CRT television, they usually just have two-prong plugs on them anyway. Are you sure your TV has a three-prong plug?
Old 08-10-07, 08:45 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 21
Thanks for all the replies! I'm not sure at all that the TV is grounded. I just kind of assumed TVs were. This one's a 19" CRT-type TV, so perhaps it's a two prong plug after all!

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